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Associated Press 

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SOURCE: Facebook

Access to Facebook and other personal social media accounts by Alaska school districts and employers is targeted in pending legislation.

Student privacy

(AP) An Anchorage legislator and the American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska announced plans Wednesday to support bills to extend digital privacy protections for students and employees.

Rep. Andy Josephson, D-Anchorage, plans to introduce one bill to prohibit schools from coercing students into providing access to personal social media accounts and another that would put the same limitation on employers.

"This is designed to get the law to catch up to the constitution in the context of our existing culture," Josephson said.

It's part of an ACLU effort nationwide to increase data privacy that includes the planned introduction of bills in 16 states to address private email access, devices belonging to students, and social media privacy protections for students and employees.

Organizers have cited a Pennsylvania case in which the parents of a 15-year-old student sued after discovering a school district had been remotely activating cameras in school-owned laptops to watch students at home.

LNG project

(AP) Gov. Bill Walker says he's comfortable with statements made by Exxon Mobil Corp. that gas would be made available to a pipeline project the state is pursuing if the company was no longer involved in it.

Exxon is a partner in the project, along with BP and ConocoPhillips.

In December, BP and ConocoPhillips signed a gas availability agreement with the state and agreed to continue negotiating terms under which their gas would be made available to the project if either of them pulled out.

Walker says Exxon has made statements that pieced together make him comfortable that gas would be available to a project if the company wasn't involved.

Banking on pot

(AP) States that have legalized pot are taking a fresh look at making it easier for out-of-state investors to get in the weed business, saying the industry's ongoing difficulty in banking means they need new options to finance expansion.

The four states that allow recreational pot sales - Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington - have another big reason to take a new look at pot investment. That's California, the nation's most populous state and largest marijuana producer, though it allows pot only for people with certain medical ailments.

California voters could approve recreational pot this fall, giving the nascent pot industries in the other states reason to want to attract investment now. California has no ban on out-of-state owners, pressuring other pot states to loosen rules before California opens for business.

Climate change

(AP) Gov. Bill Walker wants to look at the impacts that Alaska can anticipate to its villages and coastline from climate change.

Walker says people can agree or disagree on the cause of climate change but says Alaska is dealing with the effects.

He notes the case of Kivalina, a Native village threatened by erosion. Walker says there needs to be a plan for dealing with that. He says other communities are in similar situations.

He says there's a lot of attention placed on the impacts of rising tides and warmer temperatures in Alaska but not on what to do about it.

President Barack Obama used a visit to the state last year to draw attention to the issue of climate change.

Unemployment rate

(AP) Alaska finished 2015 with an unemployment rate of 6.5 percent.

The state labor department says the December seasonally adjusted rate compares to 6.4 percent in November. The unemployment rate in December 2014 was 6.4 percent.

The department, in a release, says the seasonally adjusted rate for 2015 showed no clear trend, which it said is consistent with other economic indicators suggesting the economy last year was relatively flat.

Nationally, the unemployment rate last month was 5 percent.


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