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January 21, 2020 / This week from The Signal

Is the Legislature back in session?
Should we privatize Alaska's ferry system?
And what happens when the state of Alaska sues itself?
Crews attempt to turn over a trailer that was flipped over by wind at the subport lot in downtown Juneau on Jan. 16. High winds caused moderate damage, closures and flight cancellations last week. (Photo and story by Adelyn Baxter/KTOO)

But first… The Alaska Legislature eggsplained


The rumors are true: The Alaska Legislature is back in session. For a Juneau newsguy like me, the legislative session is sort of a three-to-four-month bridge over the winter doldrums, connecting me to the sunnier days of Juneau's boisterous cruise season. But for the Alaskans who don't depend on the Legislature for symbolic emotional reassurance, a quick refresher course on the legislative process might be handy. Look no further than this incredible video from the 1970s. The 19-minute opus builds upon a simple premise: What if you had to explain the legislative process to the world's most obnoxious giant talking chicken? My review: A hen-tertaining chick flick at the beak of creeggtive eggcellence.

Four you should not ignore

News you should peruse.
  1. Marine no-way: Gaps in winter ferry service have made it harder for coastal Alaskans to do things like get groceries or sustain basketball rivalries, as reported by KCAW-Sitka's Ari Snider and KRBD-Ketchikan's Eric Stone, respectively. Privatization of the state ferries has been floated as a potential solution, but CoastAlaska's Jacob Resneck says a new state-commissioned study pretty much sinks that idea.
  2. Facebooked: Another intriguing story from Jacob: Corporate shareholders face legal restrictions over what they can and cannot say about board elections. Those restrictions apply to shareholders of Alaska Native corporations, too. As a result, some shareholders have been fined and put on probation for criticizing corporate leadership on social media.
  3. Hot water: What happens when Alaska's waterways get warmer? The morbid answer posited in two Alaska's Energy Desk stories is this: Things die. Kavitha George at KMXT-Kodiak looks at a study that ties "the Blob" to a seabird die-off, and Isabelle Ross at KDLG-Dillingham reports that at least 100,000 fish in one river died this past summer.
  4. Murkowskish: The Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump begins this week, and a lot of attention will be focused on Sen. Lisa Murkowski's words and actions. What did she mean when she said she was "disturbed?" Will she vote against hearing witness testimony before she votes for it? For answers, Alaska Public Media's Liz Ruskin pulls out her trusty Murkowski decoder ring.

Video of the week

A video from Hooper Bay resident Daniel Cerneck shows a big, soggy mess at the Western Alaska community's school. Several inches of water pour down the stairs. The lights are flickering or fully out in the hallways. Chunks of ceiling tiles float along the floor. At one point, a man opens a classroom door and at least a foot of water, books and paper plates stream out. The extensive damage was caused by a burst pipe last month, forcing the school to close. School officials hope to reopen by the end of January. (Story by Rashah McChesney of KTOO)

Just one more thing…

Suing someone can be an expensive, time-consuming affair — sometimes with unsatisfactory results. But have you ever tried suing yourself?

In a roundabout way, that's kind of what the state of Alaska did. KTOO's Jeremy Hsieh recounts a curious case in which the state's Public Defender Agency sued the state's court system to argue over who should pay for a defendant's travel expenses. The unique legal battle ended up costing more than $80,000 altogether — easily more than the travel bill in dispute.

More news around Alaska

The Signal is written by KTOO digital media editor Ryan Cunningham
and edited by KTOO managing editor Jennifer Pemberton.

KTOO News is member supported.

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What are you waiting for? For an entertaining inside take on the biggest news in Alaska, try The Signal – just enter your email to get the latest edition delivered every week - it's free, we keep your email safe, and you can easily unsubscribe any time.