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Ruling allows trust status for Alaska tribal lands

Dec 19, 2014 -- 10:00am
- ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - A court decision is allowing Alaska tribes to apply for federal trust status for their lands. Alaska Public Radio Network reports that the U.S. Department of Interior published a final regulation in a prolonged dispute between tribes, the agency and the state of Alaska. At issue was an interpretation of the 1971 Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act that held that Alaska tribes had lost that right under the settlement act. Four tribes and one Alaska Native individual filed a lawsuit in 2006 over the matter. The U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., rejected the state's position that the settlement act mandated different treatment for tribes in Alaska. The state is appealing. Trust status means local and state governments cannot tax economic development initiatives tribes may develop on their lands.

Walker considers delay in legal marijuana sales

Dec 19, 2014 -- 9:45am
- FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) - Alaska Gov. Bill Walker says he's considering a 90-day delay in implementing legal marijuana sales. Alaska voters in November approved legalizing recreational use of marijuana. The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports Walker told the Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce he's exploring a delay in the part of the measure that allows for commercial sales. The ballot measure specified that adults no longer would be arrested under state law for possessing up to an ounce of pot outside their homes 90 days after election results were certified. That date is Feb. 24. The state has nine months more to produce regulations for commercial sales, three months to begin accepting applications and three months after that to issue permits. Commercial growers could produce marijuana for sale in May 2016 under the timeline.

Minimum wage increase to take effect Feb 24

Dec 19, 2014 -- 9:30am
- JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - Alaska's minimum wage will go up by a $1 an hour, to $8.75 an hour, starting Feb. 24. Voters in November approved a ballot measure that called for an increase on Jan. 1. That would have held true had the ballot measure appeared on the August primary ballot, as originally expected. But when the last legislative session ran long, it pushed to the November ballot the initiatives that had been scheduled for the primary. Since the constitution calls for ballot measures to take effect 90 days after the election results are certified, the effective date in this case will be in February. The state labor department says the next scheduled increase in the minimum wage, to $9.75 an hour, will take effect Jan. 1, 2016.
 

Weird weather lingers in Alaska's largest city

Dec 19, 2014 -- 9:15am
- ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - A week before Christmas, Alaska's largest city should look like a postcard wonderland. It should be the last place you'd expect to see equipment making snow. A spate of weird weather is lingering in Anchorage, which is almost 2 feet behind typical snowfall totals by this time of the coldest season. With just days to go until solstice Sunday signals the official start of winter, bare ground can be seen in places and temperatures have been averaging in the 30s. For the most part, it's even been too warm to make snow for local ski haunts, although a slight dip in temperatures allowed the Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage to manufacture powder Thursday on some trails. Temperatures are expected to be above or near normal through the end of the year.

Gamble reflects after announcing retirement

Dec 18, 2014 -- 11:30am
- JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - University of Alaska president Pat Gamble says he loves coming to work every day. But at age 69, and with the university system in a position he feels comfortable with, Gamble says it's time to retire. UA announced Monday that Gamble will retire June 1, after five years. In an interview, Gamble said his proudest point in the job has been bringing the leaders of the three main universities together to work on issues across the system rather than having the universities compete for resources. Gamble plans to guide the university system through what is expected to be a tough budget year, with the state facing deficits. Gamble says the goal is for UA to get through the rough stretch without losing the gains it has made in recent years.

Juneau officials cut state funding request list

Dec 18, 2014 -- 11:15am
- JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - Juneau officials are whittling down a list of state funding requests amid potential state budget deficits of more than $3 billion for both this year and next due to low oil prices. The finance committee for the local assembly agreed Wednesday to prioritize five projects out of an original list of 29. The new list includes a water treatment plant, well improvements, a communications tower update, a rebuild of the Douglas Harbor and additional snow-clearing machines that could handle narrow sidewalks. The Juneau Empire reports that assembly members agreed that airport and school officials would be consulted for their top priorities, which would be added to a list for future years. The city itself faces a $7.2-million deficit for 2016.
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