Home News Roundup News Roundup: February 14, 2014

News Roundup: February 14, 2014

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Voting and the Constitution

Oil companies are spending big money to oppose Alaska’s referendum seeking to repeal last year’s oil tax cuts. As of February 5th, BP and Exxon have each invested over $1.3 million; ConocoPhillips has put in $350,000; Repsol has spent $265,000; and Chevron has given $150,000. Other oil companies have pitched in smaller amounts, as has the Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce. [ADN]

Former Lt. Gov. Jack Coghill fought hard for a constitutional ban on public funding for private schools. Now his son, Sen. John Coghill, is leading the charge to repeal that ban. Thanksgiving’s probably going to be awkward this year. [Alaska Dispatch]

The United States, home of the First Amendment, just scored 46th on Reporters Without Borders’ annual Press Freedom Index. Oops. [The Atlantic]

Rep. Doug Isaacson (R-North Pole) surprised many last year when he explained his belief that private citizens should be permitted to own F-22 fighter jets. This year, rather than the Second Amendment, he’s critiquing the 17th Amendment. Isaacson  doesn’t think we should be able to vote for our U.S. Senators. [ADN]

 

Marriage

It’s been a busy week for marriage in Texas. On Wednesday, a federal court heard arguments seeking to overturn the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, and on Thursday a federal appeals court overruled a lower court decision that had invalidated the marriage of Nikki Araguz to her husband — a firefighter killed in the line of duty — because Nikki is transgender. And now Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis officially supports same-sex marriage. [Reuters, Daily Kos]

Also, Kentucky must now recognize same-sex marriages issued by other states. [CNN]

And, late yesterday, a federal judge declared Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional. [USAToday]

 

Transportation 

Hourly workers at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee will soon vote on whether to unionize, which has sparked conservative backlash and scare tactics. Grover Norquist’s group Americans for Tax Reform has plastered the city with billboards linking the United Auto Workers with President Obama, and Republican state legislators have threatened to withhold tax incentives for future plant expansion if the workers unionize. Because the UAW is trying to take your guns. [POLITICO]

It hasn’t always been illegal to walk across the street without a crosswalk – modern jaywalking laws are largely the result of a 1920s propaganda campaign by the motor industry. [BBC]

The Alaska Railroad is considering seasonal commuter rail service between Wasilla and Anchorage. Finally. [ADN]

Meanwhile, travel doesn’t seem to be much of a problem for Alaska state legislators. APRN’s Alexandra Gutierrez reports that the tab for lawmakers’ travel came close to a cool million last year, up 50 percent from the year before. Sadly, all airfare appears to have been round trip.

 

Public Officials

Governor Parnell told Ketchikan reporters last week that the Ketchikan Gateway Borough’s pending lawsuit against the state (over local contributions to school funding) could “shade or color” responses to community requests for infrastructure funding, but later said that he wasn’t threatening retaliation. He promises. [ADN]

The Juneau Empire’s state capital reporter was sacked this week, allegedly because she refused to set up a meeting with the newspaper’s owner and the sponsor of a bill that could adversely affect newspapers. [KTOO]

Tens of thousands of people marched in Raleigh, North Carolina last weekend, protesting policies implemented by the state’s Republican governor and legislature  in what organizers say was the state’s largest rally since the civil rights movement. [Newsweek]

As long as Jay Inslee is governor of Washington, nobody dies. At least not because of the death penalty. [King5].

If you know anyone in Arkansas, there’s a guy running for office there who they really shouldn’t vote for. [Alaska Commons]

 

Food and Dogs (Sold Separately)

Research in Fairbanks by the Alaska Co-op Development Program is laying the groundwork for an agricultural cooperative, which would help local farmers expand beyond farmers’ markets and CSA boxes. [Daily News-Miner]

The federal farm bill, which was finally passed last week, includes a provision that makes it a federal crime to attend (or bring a child to) any animal fighting event. [Politix]

And speaking of animals, a mixed-breed dog who was rescued at the last minute from a South Carolina kill shelter competed at the Westminster Dog Show on Tuesday. And looked adorable while doing it. [Jezebel]