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

News Briefs


October 25, 2017

First snow

Valdez received an inch of snow between Saturday and Sunday - the first of the season.

Termination dust on the mountain peaks surrounding Valdez has been creeping down from the tops since September.

According to the Alaska Avalanche Center, which monitors rain, snow and other weather in the Valdez area, Thompson Pass had three inches of snow on the ground as of early Tuesday morning.

Jobs down

Employment in Alaska is down by an estimated 1.3 percent for September 2017 compared to the same month in 2016 according to the Alaska Dept. of Labor.

"...this is a loss of about 4,600 jobs," the Dept. said in a press release Friday. "Over-the-year job losses have gradually gotten smaller in 2017, however. The largest losses during the current downturn were in the fall of 2016 at -2.6 percent."

Energy related jobs and building showed the most losses, with some growth seen in other industries.

"Oil and gas employment and construction were both down 6.7 percent," the Dept. said. "The only industries to add jobs were health care (1.4 percent), leisure and hospitality (0.3 percent), and local government (0.2 percent). Federal employment was flat, and other industries showed mostly modest losses."

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 7.2 percent in September was the same as August and "and remains elevated from September of last year, when it was 6.6 percent."

The c national rate for September was 4.2 percent.

Real ID

(AP) The state of Alaska says it has received another extension to comply with national proof-of-identity standards.

The state says it received from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security an extension through Oct. 10, 2018. The state Department of Administration says military bases and other federal facilities will accept Alaska-issued driver's licenses and identification cards during that period.

The commissioner of the Department of Administration, Leslie Ridle, says in a release that the extension will provide time to complete upgrades necessary for the state to begin producing cards that are compliant with the federal REAL ID law.

State legislation passed earlier this year lets Alaskans choose whether to get a compliant ID.

Alaska expects to begin producing REAL ID-compliant cards in January 2019.

State appeal

(AP) The state of Alaska is challenging the constitutionality of a proposed ballot initiative aimed at protecting salmon habitat.

The state says it is appealing a court decision that called for allowing backers of the measure to begin gathering signatures.

The matter went to court after Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott last month refused to certify it, citing a Department of Law opinion.

The department maintained that the measure would limit the Legislature's ability to decide how to allocate anadromous streams among competing uses and raised constitutional questions.

In a release, Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth says the state is taking no position on whether the proposal is good public policy. But she says it raises a constitutional issue that should be answered by the Alaska Supreme Court.

Dems win

(AP) - A state court judge in Alaska has struck down as unconstitutional a law requiring that primary election candidates be registered members of the party whose nomination they're seeking.

The decision comes in a case brought against the state by the Alaska Democratic Party.

The party is seeking to allow politically unaffiliated candidates to run in its primaries.

In a written decision Tuesday, Superior Court Judge Philip Pallenberg says that by not allowing unaffiliated candidates to participate in party primaries, the state is restricting the party's attempt to appeal to independent voters.

The decision could be appealed.

State Department of Law spokeswoman Cori Mills said by email that the state is reviewing the decision.

The party's push for letting nonaffiliated candidates in its primaries predates the 2016 U.S. Senate race.

Politically unaffiliated voters comprise the largest voting bloc in the state.

The uninsured

(AP) A major new survey finds that the number of U.S. adults without health insurance is up nearly 3.5 million this year.

Lt.Gov. Byron Mallott

Analysis of the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index suggests that rising premiums and political turmoil over "Obamacare" are undermining recent coverage gains that drove the nation's uninsured rate to a historic low.

The survey is out Friday.

The survey found that the uninsured rate among adults was 12.3 percent during the period from July 1-Sept. 30. That's up 1.4 percentage points since the end of 2016.

The increase in the number of uninsured is more striking because it comes at a time of economic growth and low unemployment.

Experts predict the uninsured number will continue to climb this year, even though sign-up season under the Affordable Care Act starts Nov. 1.


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