Walker names new member to Marijuana Control Board

North Slope Borough Police Chief Travis Welch has been appointed by Gov. Bill Walker to the public safety seat on the Marijuana Control Board.

The position opened up on Jan. 4 when Soldotna Police Chief and board Chairman Peter Mlynarik resigned after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded what’s known as the Cole Memo, which was the prior administrations official policy non-enforcement of federal marijuana laws in states that have legalized it for recreational use.

Committee recommends sanction for Eastman over ethics violation

The House Subcommittee on Legislative Ethics is recommending a sanction of censure for Rep. David Eastman, R-Wasilla, after concluding he violated Alaska law by disclosing the existence of a complaint filed against a fellow legislator.

The committee, which includes members of the public, Eastman and House Majority Leader Chris Tuck, D-Anchorage, recommended he be removed from the committee for the remainder of the current legislative session in a decision released Jan. 18.

Interior official blasts resignation of parks advisory board

A U.S. Interior Department official on Wednesday blasted the resignation of most members of a board that advises it on national parks, suggesting the move was politically motivated and their work was flawed.

Todd Willens, associate deputy secretary of the department, brought up investigations that uncovered sexual harassment at national parks such as the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone and an internal investigative report of a guidebook written by former National Park Service leader Jonathan Jarvis.

Missile defense gets major boost from latest bill

While the Republican tax overhaul was dominating year-end headlines, a major piece of bipartisan legislation became law that also has significant implications for Alaska.

The 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, signed by President Donald Trump in mid-December, allocates $699 billion to Defense agencies in the coming year.

Broad support of the annual Defense funding bill is nothing new, but wrapped in this NDAA is nearly every provision of Sen. Dan Sullivan’s Advancing America’s Missile Defense Act.

Politicians, stakeholders want conditions for Juneau utility sale

Alaskans with addresses from North Pole to Washington, D.C., are objecting to the proposed sale of the Juneau electric utility by its current Washington state-based owners to a large Ontario utility.

The cause for the North American geography mini-lesson is what will happen if the Regulatory Commission of Alaska approves the sale including the 78-megawatt Snettisham hydroelectric facility that provides up to 75 percent of Juneau’s base load power supply.

FISH FACTOR: Seafood trimmings have huge uncaptured value

State seafood marketers are rebranding fish parts as “specialty” products and mapping a path for millions more dollars in sales.

Alaska’s fisheries produce more than 5 billion pounds of seafood each year. When all the fish is headed and gutted or filleted and all the crab legs are clustered, it leaves about 3 billion pounds of trimmings. Some is turned into meal and oil, but for the most part, the “gurry” is ground up and discharged into local waterways.

Districts try to trim overhead as enrollment, budgets decline

On Kodiak Island, eight village schools now share a single principal.

Cutting principal positions from the schools lowered administrative costs for the Kodiak Island Borough School District according to Superintendent Larry LeDoux.

Last year, the district of 2,420 students, spread out hundreds of miles from Akhiok on the southern end to Ouzinkie in the north, lost $1.9 million in its operating budget. Cuts came in part from a 25 percent state budget cut that formerly shared new construction costs between the state and local boroughs that bonded for them.

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