Andrew Kitchenman, Alaska Public Media & KTOO - Juneau

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Andrew Kitchenman is the state government and politics reporter for Alaska Public Media and KTOO in Juneau. Reach him at akitchenman@alaskapublic.org.

Former Fairbanks Borough Mayor to serve on pipeline board

The Legislature Friday narrowly approved former Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor Luke Hopkins to serve on the board responsible for developing the Alaska gas pipeline. Download Audio

University of Alaska faces $50 million cut due to committee vote

The University of Alaska faces a $50 million budget cut, due to a legislative committee vote on Thursday. Download Audio

Poorest Alaskans hit hardest by new proposed budget solutions

The Legislature is trying to close the four billion dollar budget deficit this week. But a new report says the burden of closing the gap will fall too heavily on the poorest Alaskans. Download Audio

Oil and gas tax credit debate rages ahead of legislative session end

The House spent six hours debating oil and gas tax credits Tuesday night. And they’re not done yet – lawmakers will pick up the bill again Wednesday. Download Audio

Senate Finance Permanent Fund bills could lower dividends, stabilize budget

The outlines of changes to the Permanent Fund became clearer today. Senate Finance Committee introduced a bill that would pay for much of the state government’s budget using the Fund’s earnings. It also would reduce residents’ Permanent Fund dividends, but make them more stable for the future. Download Audio

Power Cost Equalization Fund could pay for community assistance

The Senate Finance Committee is looking to re-route money from a fund to offset the high cost of electricity in rural areas. Some Power Cost Equalization money would replace the Community Revenue Sharing program that the state government started when oil prices were higher. Download Audio
Sen. John Coghill, R-North Pole, at a Senate Majority press availability, March 21, 2016. (Photo by Skip Gray/360 North)

State Senate passes criminal justice overhaul bill

The state Senate voted 16-2 on Saturday to pass a bill overhauling Alaska’s criminal justice system. Download Audio

Senate focuses on Permanent Fund plans to close budget gap

Proposals to spend Permanent Fund earnings on the state budget will be a major focus of the legislative session’s final nine days. Download Audio

Senate passes bill allowing firearms on UA campuses

The Senate passed a bill Thursday to allow people to carry concealed firearms on University of Alaska campuses. Download Audio

Corrections officers union seeks retraction of review, opposes commissioner

The state corrections officers union wants Governor Bill Walker to retract key sections of a report released last year that criticized Department of Corrections policies and some officers’ actions. Download Audio
House Finance Co-Chairs Mark Neuman (R-Big Lake) and Steve Thompson (R-Fairbanks) confer during Saturday's hearing. The House and Senate Finance committees have most of the work this session, as lawmakers consider buying out TransCanada's stake in the Alaska LNG project. (Rachel Waldholz/APRN)

Budget talks entering final phase

State budget talks are entering their final phase. The House and Senate have appointed members to a budget conference committee. Download Audio

Rep. Olson bill would tax Permanent Fund dividends as budget stopgap

Representative Kurt Olson, a Soldotna Republican developed a plan to tax Permanent Fund dividends back in February. But he didn’t introduce it at the time, because he wanted to see how the debate over plans from Governor Bill Walker and others unfolded. Download Audio

Rep. Young calls on Juneau Republicans to support Sturgeon case

Congressman Don Young called on Juneau Republicans to support legislative funding for John Sturgeon’s legal fight over operating a hovercraft in a national preserve. Young also says that while he’s running for re-election, when the time comes for a successor, Alaskans should choose someone who’s young. Download Audio

Criminal justice bill amended to reduce benefits to sex offenders

Senators have amended a bill that would overhaul Alaska’s criminal justice system, taking steps that makes it more difficult for those convicted of sex crimes from benefiting from the bill’s provisions. Download Audio

Legislators offer $32.5 million for Anchorage LIO

The state government would buy the Legislative Information Office in downtown Anchorage for $32.5 million, under a recommendation made Thursday night by the Legislative Council. Download Audio

Legislative council meets to discuss fate of LIO building

The Legislative Council meets Thursday to decide what to do about the Anchorage Legislative Information Office. A judge recently ruled the state lease for the building is illegal, because the state didn’t open it up to competitive bidding. Download Audio

Economist urges lawmakers to address deficit uncertainty

What the Legislature does in response to the state government’s $4 billion deficit could have big effects on Alaska’s economy, according to a leading economist. Download Audio

Four bills aimed at cutting state costs raise local concerns

Senators introduced four new bills Monday that would require local governments and schools to pay more for pensions, end two college scholarship programs, and cut the amount that municipalities receive in state funding. Download Audio
Cannabis Plant. (Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Bill requiring background checks for marijuana sellers in limbo

Marijuana businesses are scheduled to open in June, after the state issues licenses. But there’s a hitch – the state won’t issue licenses until the Legislature passes a bill that allows for national criminal background checks, among other provisions. And that bill is currently in limbo.

Walker to lawmakers: Putting off sustainable budget is ‘wholly unacceptable’

Governor Bill Walker says the Legislature must agree to a complete and sustainable solution to the state’s fiscal problem this year. In a letter to legislators Walker sent yesterday (Wednesday), he says continuing to draw on reserves without a solid plan to stop doing so is unacceptable. Download Audio