The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

News Briefs


Pot put off

(AP) Alaska marijuana regulators have delayed discussion about onsite use until next month.

The board was to consider Wednesday whether to move forward with proposed rules for allowing retail pot customers to consume their purchases on site, a step no other state has taken yet.

The debate comes amid concerns that doing so could bring unwanted attention from the federal government.

However, the board during its meeting prioritized slogging through a backlog of license applications for new retail stores and manufacturing facilities.

One application, for The High Expedition Co., consumed time because of opposition in the quirky tourist town of Talkeenta.

The board approved the license on a 3-2 vote over the objections of some tourism operators that a pot store on main street would damage the town's historic nature.

GCI sold

(AP) An Alaska telecommunications company has been sold.

GCI in an announcement says it has been acquired by Colorado-based Liberty Interactive Corp. The company will be renamed GCI Liberty.

GCI co-founder and chief executive officer Ron Duncan says that as part of a larger company, GCI will be better positioned to serve Alaskans and customers in other states.

The company says GCI will remain a freestanding operation within GCI Liberty and its leadership team and brand will not change.

GCI headquarters will stay in Anchorage.

For each share of GCI stock, shareholders will receive $32.50 in GCI Liberty stock, made up of $27.50 in common stock and $5 in a new preferred stock.

GCI says the sale is subject to regulatory review and is expected to close in 2018.

More cuts

(AP) The Alaska Senate is proposing school funding cuts and phasing out a scholarship program the Senate majority says hasn't met expectations.

Senate Finance Committee Co-Chair Lyman Hoffman says a $69-million cut to a school funding formula is being considered as part of a larger budget-cutting strategy.

The Senate also is proposing steps intended to improve education, including repurposing a fund for scholarships to instead provide education innovation grants.

Under one proposal, this year's high school graduating class would be the last to receive merit-based scholarships.

Senate Majority Leader Peter Micciche says educators unhappy with the proposed cut should urge House passage of legislation that would use Alaska oil-wealth fund earnings to fill much of the state's deficit.

He says lawmakers could then better evaluate any remaining gaps.

House majority leaders have said they want a more comprehensive fiscal plan

Trump tax

(AP) President Donald Trump has scrapped the tax plan he campaigned on and is going back to the drawing board in a search for Republican consensus behind legislation to overhaul the U.S. tax system.

The administration's first attempt to write legislation is in its early stages and the White House has kept much of it under wraps.

But it has already sprouted the consideration of a series of unorthodox proposals including a drastic cut to the payroll tax, aimed at appealing to Democrats.

Some view the search for new options as a result of Trump's refusal to set clear parameters for his plan and his exceedingly challenging endgame: reducing tax rates enough to spur faster growth without blowing up the budget deficit.

Bird deaths

(AP) An Anchorage-based scientist says paralytic shellfish poisoning is to blame for the deaths of more than 300 puffins that washed up in the Pribilof Islands in the Bering Sea last fall.

Tony Gorman photo

Teachers trounced members of the Valdez Police Department Friday night 64-62 - during the annual Apples Vs Donuts basketball fundraiser.

Ecologist Bruce Wright's opinion is different from most scientists who believe the puffins died of starvation.

Wright, with the Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association, believes the puffins and the thousands of common murres that died in the Gulf of Alaska in 2015 were affected by the shellfish poisoning.

Alaska's Energy Desk reports warmer ocean water promotes the growth of toxic algal blooms, which can be potentially fatal for animals.

Wright suspects paralytic shellfish poisoning had a role in both bird die-offs because big algal blooms were documented before the birds washed ashore.

He says his hypothesis is important to consider, as the toxins have the potential to transform Pacific Ocean ecosystems.


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