Alaska News Nightly: Friday, April 5, 2019

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Lawmakers wrestle with the state plans to privatize the Alaska Psychiatric Institute

Andrew Kitchenman, KTOO – Juneau

Five House members who chair committees have urged the state’s chief procurement officer to halt the state’s contract with Wellpath to operate the Alaska Psychiatric Institute.

Ballot initiative to move Alaska Legislature’s meetings clears early hurdle

Jeremy Hsieh, KTOO – Juneau

After the sponsors get some official documents, they’ll have one year to collect more than 28,000 qualified signatures to put the question to voters in 2020.

Alaska Democrats look to swap caucuses with primary for 2020

Associated Press

Alaska Democrats have proposed swapping their long-standing caucus system with a primary to determine state-level support for Democratic candidates seeking the party’s nomination for president.

Pebble backs lawsuit to halt Bristol Bay seafood association’s funding for anti-mine groups

Elizabeth Harball, Alaska’s Energy Desk – Anchorage

Six Bristol Bay commercial fishermen are suing a regional seafood association they belong to, challenging over $250,000 in contracts it made with groups that advocate against the proposed Pebble Mine.

Former Gov. Bill Walker lands at political ally’s law firm

Nathaniel Herz, Alaska’s Energy Desk – Anchorage

Former Alaska Gov. Bill Walker has a new job. Walker, an attorney, has joined the law office formerly known as Brena, Bell and Clarkson — now known as Brena, Bell and Walker, according to a document filed Friday in a federal case.

A New York Times reporter discusses his story revealing the ANWR test well was ‘worthless’ 

Elizabeth Harball, Alaska’s Energy Desk – Anchorage

The New York Times published a story this week uncovering a long-held Alaska secret. The reporters found a lawyer in Ohio who revealed that the only exploratory oil well ever drilled in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was “worthess.”

State of Alaska petitions federal government to delist Arctic ringed seals under the Endangered Species Act

Ravenna Koenig, Alaska’s Energy Desk – Fairbanks

In the latest chapter of an ongoing debate over the status of Arctic ringed seals, the State of Alaska has petitioned the federal government to take them off the list of threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.

Southeast Alaska researchers get rare opportunity to study a sperm whale

Elizabeth Jenkins, Alaska’s Energy Desk – Juneau

The species has been spotted in the Inside Passage before. But sightings are infrequent. A whale found recently near Juneau is thought to have died from a vessel strike.

AK: Know the risks before you visit Mendenhall Glacier’s newest ice cave

Adelyn Baxter, KTOO – Juneau

Although the famous blue caverns from several years ago have disappeared, word of a new cave spread over social media this winter and brought crowds to the glacier. But while hiking to the cave is a remarkable experience, it also comes with some risk.

49 Voices: Benjamin Agimuk of Bethel

Krysti Shallenberger, Alaska’s Energy Desk – Bethel

This week we’re hearing from Benjamin Agimuk in Bethel. Agimuk is originally from Chevak and is part of several Native dance groups as a yuraq drummer. He performed at this year’s Cama-i Dance Festival.

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