by Johanna Eurich

Alaska Native elders say it's time to stop talking about climate change and get to work. That's the message Larry Merculieff with the Native Science Commission brought to a group meeting in Anchorage this weekend.

He told members of Common Ground that Alaska Natives don't see climate change  -- they see a climate crisis. He says to solve the problems people will have to change the way they think. To explain the magnitude of the problem Murkulieff quoted a white elder... Albert Einstein.

Legislative impasse continues

Layoff warning notices were sent yesterday (Monday June 1) to thousands of state employees as the legislative impasse over the budget continues. Layoffs take effect if Legislators don't pass a budget by July 1. The Alaska Senate rejected a budget House majority leaders had negotiated with the House minority, and passed a version of the budget similar to what lawmakers passed in  April. The House rejected that budget. The budget now goes to a a conference committee of House and Senate negotiators. 

Alaska House Minority leader Chris Tuck says he does not believe lawmakers are any closer to a budget deal. Tuck and House Speaker Mike Chenault have been talking in a bid to put together a package that would get enough support to use the constitutional budget reserve fund to cover costs for the fiscal year starting July 1.


Skyrocketing heroin use affects rural, urban Alaska

By Daysha Eaton, KYUK

Joaqlin Estus / KNBA

Over the past four days, we have brought you stories that go out into the field for an in-depth look at Alaska's rural sanitation situation - a series we call "Kick the Bucket."  We have seen how the lack of modern sanitation is linked to disease as people strain the limits of their clean water supply. And we have looked at the implications of decreasing funding and looming maintenance expenses in villages with a limited cash economy.   Today we’ll wrap up the series by trying to look into the future.

Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, Village Safe Water Program

What if you didn’t have piped water and sewer, and the government wasn’t picking up the tab to get you some? How would you find a low-cost system that you could keep running through the winter? In this segment of “Kick the Bucket,” find out how experts are looking for answers to rural sanitation issues in Alaska.

Villagers and people in the water and sewer business can name dozens of ways systems have failed due to parts that shattered in the cold, say, or components that had to be flown in from Europe and installed by a Lower 48 specialist.

Joaqlin Estus / KNBA

Even rural communities that have raised the money to build modern sanitation systems face the threat of their ultimate failure due to the lack of funding for operations and maintenance, wiping away whatever health gains were achieved.

The Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation Environmental Health and Engineering Department provides technical assistance to water treatment plant operators in the region. Here’s a bit of the conversation during a recent teleconference.

Runoff election to be scheduled

With 99% of the ballots counted in yesterday’s municipal election, Ethan Berkowitz has a wide lead in the Anchorage mayor’s race. He took 37% of the vote. Amy Demboski came in second with 24 percent,  Andrew Halcro in third with 22%, and Dan Coffey in fourth with 15% of the votes. Forty-five percent of the ballots cast is needed to win, so a runoff election between Berkowitz and Dembosky will be scheduled. 

New School board members are Kathleen Plunkett, Tam Agosti-Gisler, and Elisa Snelling.

Legislators back away from Anchorage’s pending school debt

Alaska lawmakers are attempting to fast-track a bill so the state won't have to help pay for $59 million in school bonds in the state's largest district. The Senate yesterday approved a measure that would retroactively halt the state's practice of partially reimbursing municipalities for school bonds issued after Jan. 1, 2015. Anchorage voters on April 7 will decide a $59 million bond package.


Controlling Medicaid costs a priority Senate Finance Committee co-chair Pete Kelly doesn't intend to include Medicaid expansion in the initial draft of a Medicaid reform bill. The Fairbanks Republican plans to introduce a bill this week aimed at controlling costs within the current Medicaid program. He says the bill would address things like rates. -------------------------------------


Legislators to consider changing fishery priorities