Voices

President Barack Obama is coming to Alaska this week. Unlike our fellow Americans in Washington, D.C., and other parts of the Lower 48, Alaskans aren't accustomed to such a high-profile visitor and the impact such visits have on the daily lives of ordinary citizens. That's why the satirical blog One Hot Mess has penned this helpful list of 10 things Alaskans need to know about President Obama's historic visit to Alaska.

1. By the time it's over, you'll be nostalgic for press coverage of Sarah Palin...

Libby Bakalar
Regulate marijuana like alcohol

That’s what was on the campaign signs said and that’s what Alaskans voted for. The Anchorage Assembly is not respecting the voters’ will with it’s “open container” requirement that marijuana be carried outside the passenger compartment (in the trunk). Alcohol can be carried inside a car as long as the seal is not broken. This law assures that alcohol is not being used by the driver. Thus the term “open container.” Open containers must be carried in the trunk or in a locked glove box. Too bad there isn’t a way to tell if marijuana is being used by the driver. Oh wait, there is! Unburnt marijuana is marijuana that is not currently being used. The open container law should define burnt marijuana as an “open container” and treat it like alcohol....

Alaska Dispatch News

“The Medicaid provisions of the Affordable Care Act, in contrast, require States to expand their Medicaid programs by 2014 to cover all individuals under the age of 65 with incomes below 133 percent of the federal poverty line.” (National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, 2012; opinion of U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts).

If you’ve ever believed that lawyers are in overabundance in the world, you might find this piece unsettling. Members of the Alaska Legislature have attorneys dedicated to the legislative branch. When asked whether Gov. Bill Walker could unilaterally expand Medicaid, those attorneys concluded he can. Indeed, at least two of the Legislature’s own staff attorneys have reached this conclusion...

Rep. Andy Josephson

Last Thursday, I and the other public employees in my office stood uncomfortably in a semicircle facing our supervisors as they made the type of announcement being echoed around the state: all nonunion employees must take mandatory unpaid furlough days. Most of us already knew something like this was coming. At the very end of the last special session, the Alaska Legislature withdrew money from the budgets of many state offices – money it had already approved – to pay for the raises union employees were guaranteed under their contracts. The cuts were severe enough, we were told, that furlough days were the only way to avoid layoffs...

Marcelle McDannel

Next week, the world will focus on Alaska. Leaders representing 20 nations will make their way to Anchorage for the Global Leadership in the Arctic: Cooperation, Innovation, Engagement, and Resilience (GLACIER) conference. Arctic experts, many from Alaska, will discuss ways to deal with the environmental and operational challenges that climate change brings and the key policy issues, including emergency response and cold-weather home construction, that matter to the more than 4 million people who call the Arctic home...

Adm. Robert J. Papp, Jr.

Climate change poses a tremendous risk to the food security of Alaska’s indigenous peoples, and changes in state and federal policies could go a long way toward mitigating that risk and averting a potential crisis.

Climate change has already impacted traditional food sources, and will likely create more disruption. Changing weather patterns have limited the ability to go hunting. Sea ice has diminished and become more unstable. Species of wildlife have changed their migration patterns. Melting permafrost is reshaping the environment. Changing ocean conditions and rising water temperatures are altering fish runs. Foraging locations continue to change or even diminish as forest fires become more widespread...

James Stotts

The China-U.S. relationship is a daily and recurring, sometimes dominant, news story. Select news has been positive and indicates close collaboration, such as the November 2014 joint announcement on climate and energy initiatives. Other news is more worrisome and ominous. Recent concerns for China’s actions in the South China Sea, cybersecurity, and devaluation of the yuan are serious matters of domestic and international security...

David Slayton,Lawson W. Brigham

“AKEngineer” is hoping for clarity on a source of confusion he or she discovered in close readings of the proposed regulations that will eventually shape Alaska's legal cannabis industry:

The ballot initiative specifically made it legal to give up to an ounce of marijuana to someone over 21. The proposed new regulations (appear to contradict the law and) make it illegal to give any amount “to a consumer” without purchasing a $5,000 license and going through a bureaucratic mess. Do regulations trump the law passed by the citizens? Or, if I give a friend a joint, is he/she not a "consumer"?...

Scott Woodham
Sullivan did not flip-flop on Law of Sea treaty as Cole contends

There were a number of problems with Dermot Cole’s recent column about Sen. Sullivan’s stance on the Law of the Sea treaty. First, the headline of Dermot’s piece claimed Sullivan “flip flopped” on his views on the treaty. The action that most Alaskans associate with the term flip-flop is when a politician runs on one thing, and then does the opposite once elected to office. That’s simply not true in Sullivan’s case. To the contrary, on the campaign trail, he said that he would oppose the treaty if the U.N. retained taxing authority over American businesses, and he’s made good on that campaign promise as Alaska’s senator....

Alaska Dispatch News

In less than a week, President Obama and a massive team of White House officials will touch down at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER) for their first official visit to Alaska and the U.S. Arctic. With the rumor mill still churning, the only official word so far are stops in Anchorage, Seward, Dillingham and Kotzebue to discuss what the president has described as the greatest threat to national security – climate change. Some have called the visit historic – a moment to be celebrated and embraced – I, however, am far less optimistic, especially given the president’s recent track record in Alaska...

Rep. Don Young