FAIRBANKS — Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly members are set to vote on a tax proposal on marijuana sales next week, but members can’t agree on how much to charge.
The assembly is having a special meeting on Aug. 20 to vote on a tax proposal about what tax rate to put before the voters on the Oct. 6 ballot, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.
One measure calls for an 8 percent tax, the same rate applied to wholesale tobacco. Another, for a 5 percent tax, the same rate applied to alcohol.
ANCHORAGE — The University of Alaska Board of Regents has named a new university president after a monthslong search for the right candidate.
The Alaska Dispatch News reports the university announced Tuesday that Jim Johnsen would replace retiring University of Alaska President Pat Gamble. Johnsen, who serves as senior vice president of Alaska Communications, will take over as president on Sept. 1.
FAIRBANKS — State services like the pioneers’ homes, the aerospace corporation and the agriculture division are among Alaska’s least important, according to participants in a budget conference held by Gov. Bill Walker.
Those were the only three services identified as low priority Saturday during the three-day conference at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, reported The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.
An Alaska lawmaker wants to eliminate the program that provides tax credits for films produced in Alaska.
However, the bill, from Sen. Bill Stoltze, R-Chugiak, would not get rid of the state film production office.
The state’s film production tax credit program was created in 2008. It allowed film companies to apply for the credits, and then sell them to companies with a larger tax burden in the state.
JUNEAU — The Juneau Assembly has tripled a tax on cigarettes, with the intent that people will think twice before shelling out more than $10 for 20 smokes.
The Assembly on Monday night approved increasing the local tax to $3 a pack, up from the current $1. With an existing 5 percent sales tax and a $2 state tax, an average pack will now exceed $10, the Juneau Empire reported.
The assembly approved the hike as an excise tax instead of a sales tax that would have had to go to voters for approval.
KETCHIKAN — The Ketchikan City Council has voted against supporting the legalization of recreational marijuana.
Council members voted last week to approve a resolution opposing the general election ballot proposition that would legalize marijuana in Alaska. The resolution urged voters to reject Ballot Proposition 2, the Ketchikan Daily News reports.
The resolution said legalizing recreational marijuana would create public health hazards such as explosions from people making concentrates, or driving under the influence of pot.
JUNEAU — The trans-Alaska pipeline has moved its 17 billionth barrel of oil.
The operator of the 37-year-old pipeline, Alyeska Pipeline Service Co., announced the milestone Monday.
It has been nearly five years since the 16 billionth barrel flowed down the line, in October 2009.
The 800-mile pipeline is the economic lifeblood of the state, which relies heavily on oil revenues to run. The pipeline runs from the prodigious North Slope to Valdez, from where tankers are shipped.
Alyeska says the pipeline has generated about $180 billion in state revenue.
JUNEAU — The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is hosting an open house of its Ted Stevens Marine Research Institute.
NOAA says the July 26 event is being held to recognize Stevens’ contributions to Alaska’s fisheries and to celebrate Ted Stevens Day.
Stevens served in the U.S. Senate for 40 years and was revered for his ability to bring home projects and money. He died in a plane crash in Alaska in 2010.
KODIAK — The federal government is putting a former Coast Guard cutter up for auction after efforts to send it to a museum in Juneau failed.
The cutter Storis was listed for auction last week on the General Services Commission website at an opening bid of $60,000, Kodiak’s public radio station, KMXT, reported.
FAIRBANKS — A 30-pound dog reportedly survived a harrowing flip of a boat in an Alaska river and then a four-day ordeal without food as she remained trapped in the small craft.
Boat owner Jeremy McDonald reached his damaged boat May 30 on the Chena River and heard noises inside, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.
A retrieval crew righted the boat, and from beneath the dashboard in the bow, out popped Cutie, a Labrador retriever and terrier mix.
JUNEAU — A federal demand for repayment of funds has Alaska timber communities worried that a program that relies on the money for schools and other projects could be doomed.
U.S. Forest Service Chief Thomas Tidwell has asked 41 states to return a total of $17.9 million in timber payments as a result of automatic federal budget cuts known as sequestration.
Those timber payments are used for schools, roads, and search and rescue operations in rural communities and for conservation projects.
JUNEAU — A local Juneau carpenters union has closed after more than 70 years, part of a nationwide trend aimed at cost savings and efficiencies.
Juneau’s Carpenter Union Local 2247, which represented about 150 carpenters and was in existence since 1939, has been absorbed by Anchorage’s local 1281 after recently shutting down, KTOO reported. About 35 carpenter union locals in the Pacific Northwest have closed in the past three years to join larger local unions.
FAIRBANKS — The National Guard has helped evacuate residents from a small community in Alaska’s interior where a river ice jam caused major flooding, washing out roads and submerging homes and other buildings.
State officials estimate several hundred people have left the town of Galena, which remained mostly underwater Tuesday with the Yukon River ice jam firmly in place, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.
The Alaska Marine Highway System is considering raising its rates for traveling aboard the state’s ferries in order to deal with a pared down operating budget approved by lawmakers this spring.
Officials informed the state’s public advisory board this week that the ferry system will end its discount program, according to a story in the May 23 Kodiak Daily Mirror.
“We are actively looking at our tariff system; we feel it is not a fair and equitable system in a lot of areas,” said Richard Leary, the ferry system’s business manager.
JUNEAU — A new report card deems 11 percent of Alaska’s bridges are structurally deficient and 12.5 percent functionally obsolete.
Structurally deficient bridges need maintenance or possible replacement, while functionally obsolete bridges — which might be in good shape — don’t meet contemporary engineering standards, APRN reported.
BETHEL — A Bethel judge has ruled against some of nearly two dozen Yup’ik Eskimo fishermen cited for illegally fishing king salmon in the Kuskokwim River during a poor run last year.
Several of the fishermen were found guilty Monday after their trials by judge resumed. Magistrate Bruce Ward adjourned the cases last month until he could determine whether the fishermen have a spiritual right to fish for king salmon when restrictions are in place, as they claim.
ANCHORAGE — A private liberal arts college in Anchorage is lowering its tuition by more than 30 percent, with a goal of making a college education more affordable for Alaskans and boosting enrollment, the president of Alaska Pacific University said.
The school’s board last week decided to reduce tuition by nearly $10,000 per year, from $29,600 to $19,950, KSKA reported. University President Don Bantz said that will make Alaska Pacific more competitive with out-of-state colleges.
Parnell adopted into Tlingit clan
SAXMAN — Gov. Sean Parnell was adopted into the Eagle Killer Whale Clan of the Tlingit people during a ceremony in southeast Alaska.
He was among a number of people adopted into the clan after a totem raising Saturday in Saxman, KRBD reported.
FAIRBANKS — Denali National Park and Preserve’s entrance area facilities opened Wednesday for the summer visitor season, despite some lingering snow cover.
KUAC reports the popular sled dog demonstrations also were scheduled to begin that day, though park spokeswoman Kris Fister said officials were trying to remove snow from the track used for the demonstrations.
ANCHORAGE — Efforts are under way to make Alaska the third state in the country to legalize the recreational use of marijuana by adults.
The Anchorage Daily News says steps have been taken to put a measure on the August 2014 primary ballot. Three sponsors of the measure filed an application for an initiative petition along with signatures with the state lieutenant governor’s office on Tuesday.