A unanimous vote by the state House on Monday made a bill by state Sen. Jesse Kiehl, D-Juneau, the first potential new law to pass both chambers of the Legislature. The bill which giving disabled veterans lifetime trapping licenses officially would cost the state nothing, and essentially is a corrective measure to existing law that give such veterans free hunting and fishing licenses. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Free trapping licenses for vets is first bill to pass full Legislature

No-cost measure passed unanimously would be Juneau Sen. Jesse Kiehl’s third bill to become law

A unanimous vote by the state House on Monday made a bill by state Sen. Jesse Kiehl, D-Juneau, the first potential new law to pass both chambers of the Legislature. The bill which giving disabled veterans lifetime trapping licenses officially would cost the state nothing, and essentially is a corrective measure to existing law that give such veterans free hunting and fishing licenses. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Rates of violent offenses in Alaska have outstripped national rates since 1993. Source: FBI Crime Data Explorer UCR data, 1979-2020. Alaska data for 2021 from Crime in Alaska 2021, Alaska Department of Public Safety. (Graph provided by UAA Alaska Justice Information Center)

Rapes and aggravated assaults push Alaska’s violent-crime rates up; property-crime rates fall

Alaska’s rate of violent crimes has increased, a contrast to the national trends, and the increase is driven by extremely high rates of rape and… Continue reading

Rates of violent offenses in Alaska have outstripped national rates since 1993. Source: FBI Crime Data Explorer UCR data, 1979-2020. Alaska data for 2021 from Crime in Alaska 2021, Alaska Department of Public Safety. (Graph provided by UAA Alaska Justice Information Center)
This photo shows the Alaska State Capitol, where lawmakers are considering a proposed overhaul of Alaska’s public retirement system that would provide a new pension plan for state workers and is seen by supporters as a way to address concerns with recruiting and retaining employees. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)

State lawmakers propose pension plan for state workers

Half of the Senate’s 20 members have signed onto the bill.

This photo shows the Alaska State Capitol, where lawmakers are considering a proposed overhaul of Alaska’s public retirement system that would provide a new pension plan for state workers and is seen by supporters as a way to address concerns with recruiting and retaining employees. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire 
State Rep. Andi Story, D-Juneau, advocates for more state funding on behalf of Alaska residents with disabilities so they can “live as independently as possible” with the help of service providers during a rally in a heavy snowstorm at midday Wednesday on the steps of the Alaska State Capitol.

Rally for disability services plows ahead despite weather

About 20 people make their way to Capitol to seek solutions for service shortages.

Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire 
State Rep. Andi Story, D-Juneau, advocates for more state funding on behalf of Alaska residents with disabilities so they can “live as independently as possible” with the help of service providers during a rally in a heavy snowstorm at midday Wednesday on the steps of the Alaska State Capitol.
This 2019 aerial photo provided by ConocoPhillips shows an exploratory drilling camp at the proposed site of the Willow oil project on Alaska’s North Slope. The Biden administration is weighing approval of a major oil project on Alaska’s petroleum-rich North Slope that supporters say represents an economic lifeline for Indigenous communities in the region but environmentalists say is counter to Biden’s climate goals. A decision on ConocoPhillips Alaska’s Willow project, in a federal oil reserve roughly the size of Indiana, could come by early March 2023. (ConocoPhillips)

Biden faces dilemma in fight over Willow project

A decision could come by early March.

This 2019 aerial photo provided by ConocoPhillips shows an exploratory drilling camp at the proposed site of the Willow oil project on Alaska’s North Slope. The Biden administration is weighing approval of a major oil project on Alaska’s petroleum-rich North Slope that supporters say represents an economic lifeline for Indigenous communities in the region but environmentalists say is counter to Biden’s climate goals. A decision on ConocoPhillips Alaska’s Willow project, in a federal oil reserve roughly the size of Indiana, could come by early March 2023. (ConocoPhillips)
Six Ukrainians who are living in Juneau get a round of applause from state Senators and guests during a floor session Friday, the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. State Sen. Jesse Kiehl, D-Juneau, introduced the families and read a collective statement from the families thanking locals who have helped resettlement efforts and asking for continuing support of their homeland. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Ukrainians get Capitol welcome on war anniversary

Six of the people living in Juneau after fleeing war-torn homeland get standing ovation from Senate

Six Ukrainians who are living in Juneau get a round of applause from state Senators and guests during a floor session Friday, the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. State Sen. Jesse Kiehl, D-Juneau, introduced the families and read a collective statement from the families thanking locals who have helped resettlement efforts and asking for continuing support of their homeland. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire 
Jamiann S’eiltin Hasselquist prepares to lead a group of protesters into the office of state Rep. David Eastman, R-Wasilla, at midday Friday. The protest Hasselquist helped organize was in response to questions Eastman asked during a committee hearing Monday about possible economic benefits of dead absued children. A staff member declined to tell the protesters if Eastman was in his office.

Protesters denounce Eastman’s child abuse questions

State representative, censured for asking if dead children save money, subject of demonstration.

Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire 
Jamiann S’eiltin Hasselquist prepares to lead a group of protesters into the office of state Rep. David Eastman, R-Wasilla, at midday Friday. The protest Hasselquist helped organize was in response to questions Eastman asked during a committee hearing Monday about possible economic benefits of dead absued children. A staff member declined to tell the protesters if Eastman was in his office.
A line of electric-assisted bicycles sit on display at Juneau Bike Doctor Thursday afternoon. Two companion bills introduced this year seeks to revise state code to allow for any e-bikes a part of the generally recognized three-tier classifications of e-bikes to ride anywhere a regular bike would be allowed. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

Braking news: Bill would define e-bikes same as bicycles

Increasingly popular way to ride currently undefined in state law.

A line of electric-assisted bicycles sit on display at Juneau Bike Doctor Thursday afternoon. Two companion bills introduced this year seeks to revise state code to allow for any e-bikes a part of the generally recognized three-tier classifications of e-bikes to ride anywhere a regular bike would be allowed. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)
Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire 
U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski challenges the Alaska State Legislature to “right the ship” by taking necessary action to secure federal funds for ferries, infrastructure and other needs during her annual speech Wednesday at the Alaska State Capitol.

Murkowski gives Legislature ‘tough love’ in speech

U.S. senator asks state lawmakers to make federal funds count in speech.

Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire 
U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski challenges the Alaska State Legislature to “right the ship” by taking necessary action to secure federal funds for ferries, infrastructure and other needs during her annual speech Wednesday at the Alaska State Capitol.
Rep. David Eastman, R-Wasilla, watches his fellow House members censure him by a 35-1 vote Wednesday. The censure, which came after he asked about potential economic benefits from the deaths of abused children, is the second for Eastman, the only House member ever reprimanded in such a manner. Eastman was the lone vote against the motion.(Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

Eastman gets 2nd censure for questions about dead abused children

Controversial Wasilla legislator causes uproar by asking if deaths offer economic benefits

Rep. David Eastman, R-Wasilla, watches his fellow House members censure him by a 35-1 vote Wednesday. The censure, which came after he asked about potential economic benefits from the deaths of abused children, is the second for Eastman, the only House member ever reprimanded in such a manner. Eastman was the lone vote against the motion.(Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)
Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire 
Bridget Weiss, superintendent of the Juneau School District, speaks during a rally seeking an increase in public school funding Jan. 23 at the Alaska State Capitol. Weiss, who is stepping down as superintendent June 30, is scheduled to take on a broader statewide role as the new liaison for the University of Alaska College of Education Consortium starting July 1.
Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire 
Bridget Weiss, superintendent of the Juneau School District, speaks during a rally seeking an increase in public school funding Jan. 23 at the Alaska State Capitol. Weiss, who is stepping down as superintendent June 30, is scheduled to take on a broader statewide role as the new liaison for the University of Alaska College of Education Consortium starting July 1.
A school bus drives past the entrance of The University of Alaska Southeast on Tuesday afternoon. Pat Pitney, president of the statewide university system, highlighted ongoing and new efforts to by campuses including UAS to lure students into the teaching programs and subsequently remain as public school teachers in the state. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

Sky’s the limit for recovering UA, president says

“State of the University” highlights fiscal and enrollment stability, unique programs such as drones

A school bus drives past the entrance of The University of Alaska Southeast on Tuesday afternoon. Pat Pitney, president of the statewide university system, highlighted ongoing and new efforts to by campuses including UAS to lure students into the teaching programs and subsequently remain as public school teachers in the state. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)
Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire 
Rep. Sara Hannan, D-Juneau addresses a crowd during a recent rally outside the Alaska State Capitol. Hannan is the sponsor of a bill that would ban licensed practitioners from performing “conversion therapy” in the state.

Lawmaker says ban on conversion therapy can help address LGBTQ+ youth suicide

The bill, sponsored by Juneau Rep. Sara Hannan, awaits a House committee hearing.

Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire 
Rep. Sara Hannan, D-Juneau addresses a crowd during a recent rally outside the Alaska State Capitol. Hannan is the sponsor of a bill that would ban licensed practitioners from performing “conversion therapy” in the state.
Nurse Sherra Pritchard gives Madyson Knudsen a bandage at the Kenai Public Health Center after the ten-year-old received her first COVID-19 vaccine on Friday, Nov. 5, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)

COVID-19 stable in AK; flu and RSV in steep decline

KENAI — Flu and respiratory syncytial virus have both seen a steep decline in Alaska, health officials said on a recent Public Health ECHO, held… Continue reading

Nurse Sherra Pritchard gives Madyson Knudsen a bandage at the Kenai Public Health Center after the ten-year-old received her first COVID-19 vaccine on Friday, Nov. 5, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola addresses a joint session of the Alaska State Legislature at the Alaska State Capitol on Friday. It was the first speech to the Legislature by Alaska’s lone U.S. House member since her predecessor Don Young did so in 1992, declaring in subsequent years it was an unproductive use of time until his death last year. Peltola, who served in the Legislature from 1999 to 2009, noted Young did make regular visits to the state capitol to meet individually and with groups of lawmakers, which she did as well during her visit this week. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

A Mary Friday at the Alaska State Capitol

Kuspuks abound as Peltola invokes “Alaska model” of cooperation in congressional speech to Legislature

U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola addresses a joint session of the Alaska State Legislature at the Alaska State Capitol on Friday. It was the first speech to the Legislature by Alaska’s lone U.S. House member since her predecessor Don Young did so in 1992, declaring in subsequent years it was an unproductive use of time until his death last year. Peltola, who served in the Legislature from 1999 to 2009, noted Young did make regular visits to the state capitol to meet individually and with groups of lawmakers, which she did as well during her visit this week. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)
A map shows Juneau, Gustavus and Yakutat are the three municipalities in Southeast Alaska with sites contaminated by “forever chemicals” known by the abbreviation of PFAS. A bill by state Sen. Jesse Kiehl, D-Juneau, seeks to eliminate the use of such chemicals for most firefighting, which is one of the most common activities that uses such substances. (Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation)

Going through fire and water to fight PFAS

Ban on “forever chemicals” for most firefighting sought by Kiehl part of much bigger overhaul effort

A map shows Juneau, Gustavus and Yakutat are the three municipalities in Southeast Alaska with sites contaminated by “forever chemicals” known by the abbreviation of PFAS. A bill by state Sen. Jesse Kiehl, D-Juneau, seeks to eliminate the use of such chemicals for most firefighting, which is one of the most common activities that uses such substances. (Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation)
Carol Beecher, the new director of the Alaska Division of Elections, speaks during a news conference on Thursday at the Alaska State Capitol. Beecher’s appointment as director was announced a day earlier by Lt. Gov. Nancy Dahlstrom, who participated in a Thursday news conference by phone. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer)

New elections director says political ties won’t affect her work

Carol Beecher, a GOP donor, declines to say if she believes recent elections were fairly conducted

Carol Beecher, the new director of the Alaska Division of Elections, speaks during a news conference on Thursday at the Alaska State Capitol. Beecher’s appointment as director was announced a day earlier by Lt. Gov. Nancy Dahlstrom, who participated in a Thursday news conference by phone. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer)
Anchorage School District superintendent Dr. Jharrett Bryantt speaks with a reporter in the library at Denali Montessori Elementary School on Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022 in Anchorage, Alaska.  Alaska’s largest school district repeatedly and inappropriately secluded and restrained students with disabilities, the U.S. Department of Justice said Thursday following an investigation into alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act.   (Loren Holmes / Anchorage Daily News)

DOJ faults Alaska district for use of seclusion, restraints

Since 2017, five other school districts have entered into agreements with the department.

Anchorage School District superintendent Dr. Jharrett Bryantt speaks with a reporter in the library at Denali Montessori Elementary School on Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022 in Anchorage, Alaska.  Alaska’s largest school district repeatedly and inappropriately secluded and restrained students with disabilities, the U.S. Department of Justice said Thursday following an investigation into alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act.   (Loren Holmes / Anchorage Daily News)
An election official helps a voter feed their completed and sealed ballot into the ballot box on Election Day 2022. Lt. Gov. Nancy Dahlstrom on Wednesday announced Carol Beecher had been selected to lead the state Division of Elections. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)

Republican supporter Beecher tapped as Alaska elections head

Dahlstrom, in a statement, praised appointee’s “professionalism and extensive experience.

An election official helps a voter feed their completed and sealed ballot into the ballot box on Election Day 2022. Lt. Gov. Nancy Dahlstrom on Wednesday announced Carol Beecher had been selected to lead the state Division of Elections. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Gov. Mike Dunleavy, left, reads highlights from his revised state budget proposal for the 2024 fiscal year as Department of Transportation and Public Facilities Commissioner Ryan Anderson waits to present revisions within his department. Among the most significant revisions are required matching funds for federal allocations to the Alaska Marine Highway system. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

New spending plan calls for ‘toll’ funds to shore up ferries

It adds temporary food stamp workers, attempts novel way to secure federal funds for AMHS upgrades.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy, left, reads highlights from his revised state budget proposal for the 2024 fiscal year as Department of Transportation and Public Facilities Commissioner Ryan Anderson waits to present revisions within his department. Among the most significant revisions are required matching funds for federal allocations to the Alaska Marine Highway system. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)