Judge rejects call to block Walker from expanding MedicaidFriday, August 28, 2015 9:15am
- JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - A judge has rejected a request by state lawmakers to temporarily block Gov. Bill Walker from expanding Medicaid in Alaska. Superior Court Judge Frank Pfiffner denied a request by the Alaska Legislative Council to bar Walker from implementing Medicaid expansion until the merits of the council's case challenging Walker's authority to expand Medicaid on his own are decided. Walker announced plans to accept federal funds to expand Medicaid coverage for thousands more lower-income Alaskans after legislators tabled his expansion legislation for further review. Walker has proposed rolling out expansion Tuesday. The complaint centered on whether the expansion population is a mandatory group for coverage under Medicaid or an optional group that would require legislative approval. Pfiffner said unless another court says otherwise, Walker can go ahead with his plans.
Crews to arrive to help fight blaze in Kodiak's Chiniak areaFriday, August 28, 2015 9:00am
- KODIAK, Alaska (AP) - Additional firefighting crews are expected to help battle a wind-whipped wildfire that prompted evacuation orders for a small Kodiak Island community and destroyed a library and some properties. The fire erupted Thursday night in Chiniak, about 10 miles southeast of the city of Kodiak, on the easternmost point of Kodiak Island, leading to the evacuation call. The cause of the blaze isn't clear. Kodiak City Manager Aimee Kniaziowski told KMXT radio there was no good estimate yet for its size. Authorities said a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter planned an aerial survey and damage assessment. Kodiak Fire Chief Jim Mullican said the fire continued to burn out of control. Strong winds, which have whipped up ash from a century-old volcanic explosion, have hampered air travel in the region.
EPA: Clean water rule in effect despite court rulingFriday, August 28, 2015 8:45am
- WASHINGTON (AP) - The Environmental Protection Agency says it is going forward with a new federal rule to protect small streams, tributaries and wetlands, despite a court ruling that blocked the measure in 13 central and Western states. The EPA says a rule that took effect Friday in 37 states will safeguard drinking water for millions of Americans. Opponents, including farm and business groups, have pledged to fight the rule, emboldened by a federal court decision Thursday that blocked the rule from Alaska to Arkansas. Other lawsuits seeking to block the rule are pending across the country, and the Republican-controlled Congress has moved to thwart it. Opponents call the rule federal overreach. The EPA says it clarifies which smaller waterways fall under federal protection after two Supreme Court rulings left that uncertain.