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House discusses backlog of untested sexual assault kits

Mar 26, 2015 -- 11:15am
- JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - A state House committee has heard about a backlog of untested sexual assault kits in Alaska. The House State Affairs Committee on Thursday discussed Rep. Geran Tarr's bill to address that backlog. The kits provide tools to collect DNA evidence after an individual reports a sexual assault. It's unknown how many kits have been collected but not analyzed. Tarr's bill would direct the state Department of Public Safety to work with local law enforcement entities to prepare a report on those kits, and develop a plan to get them tested. Orin Dym, from the state Scientific Crime Detection Laboratory, said the lab has about 150 untested kits already, and it can take up to a year and a half to get a kit processed once it gets there. 

Senate panel restores some funding for university system

Mar 26, 2015 -- 11:00am
- JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - A Senate subcommittee has restored $6.8 million cut by the House to the University of Alaska system budget. That includes $5 million restored for areas like travel and personal services. The subcommittee also added $1.8 million for an unmanned aircraft system program and deleted language added in the House asking the university system to focus on cutting management positions from below the chancellor level with the reduced level of funding. The proposed changes represent a $7.5-million cut to the university budget, in all funds, from the current year, according to budget documents. Subcommittee recommendations will be considered as Senate Finance drafts its version of the state operating budget. If there are differences between the Senate and House versions, those likely will be ironed out by House and Senate negotiators.

Gov expected to introduce property tax bill for gas project

Mar 26, 2015 -- 10:45am
- JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - Gov. Bill Walker is expected to introduce legislation setting out a framework for calculating property tax payments for the state and municipalities from a major liquefied natural gas project. Revenue Commissioner Randall Hoffbeck says the formula will lay out a structure so the parties know the variables that will be involved in calculating the payments. Members of the Senate majority have said they anticipated this session bills from the administration related to property taxes and project right-of-way access. A right-of-way bill was previously introduced by Walker.

Nevada man dies after unsuccessful CPR attempt in Alaska

Mar 26, 2015 -- 10:30am
- ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - Alaska State Troopers released more information about a Nevada man who died after being found unresponsive at a southeast Alaska logging site. Spokeswoman Beth Ipsen says in an email 55-year-old David Fussell of Stagecoach, Nevada, was found alive but unresponsive by co-workers on Zarembo Island, 12 miles west of Wrangell. The co-workers unsuccessfully attempted CPR after finding him in the passenger seat of a pickup late Tuesday afternoon. Ipsen says the body has been sent to Anchorage for an autopsy to determine the cause of death. She says there were no obvious signs of foul play or anything that pointed to the death being related to a specific logging incident. Ipsen says Fussell was an employee of a logging company working at the site about 150 miles southeast of Juneau.

Bethel residents urge council to protest liquor store plans

Mar 26, 2015 -- 10:15am
- BETHEL, Alaska (AP) - Bethel residents packed a City Council meeting to voice their opposition to plans by a Bethel Native Corp. subsidiary to open a local liquor store in a section of a new supermarket that just went out of business. Bethel radio station KYUK reports the council heard more than 3 1/2 hours of testimony Tuesday night. All but a few people called for the council to push back on commercial enterprises seeking to sell alcohol. Corporation subsidiary Bethel Spirits LLC is in the process of applying for a license to put a liquor store in the facility that was recently vacated by the Swanson's grocery store. The application is expected to be submitted in April to the Alaska Alcoholic Beverage Control Board. Local governments can protest such applications.

Air Force official touts Eielson assets at scoping meeting

Mar 26, 2015 -- 10:00am
- FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) - An Air Force colonel says "phenomenal assets" at Eielson Air Force Base make it an attractive prospective home for new F-35 fighter jets. The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (http://bit.ly/1Izk29z) reports Col. Michael Winkler spoke Wednesday in Fairbanks at a public scoping meeting required before the Air Force can make a final decision on placement of 48 new high-tech fighter jets. Eight other locations were considered for the location of the first Pacific squadron of F-35s. The Air Force in August announced Eielson as the preferred alternative. Winkler says Eielson has capacity for additional squadrons. He says its 14,500-foot runway is long enough to land any aircraft in the Air Force. He says the base has ramp space for 130 aircraft, good access to energy resources and a large munitions storage facility.
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