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Rhonda McBride

Alaska truly is the Last Frontier of great storytelling. Although I’ve been a reporter in Alaska since 1988, my “to do” list of stories is ever a work in progress.

Stories by Rhonda McBride

  • State

    Powerful conservative group sponsors Medicaid expansion luncheon at State Capitol

    by Rhonda McBride on Mar 04, 21:54

    Buyer beware. That was Christie Herrera’s advice to lawmakers and staffers who gathered for a “Lunch and Learn” presentation on Medicaid expansion at the State Capitol Wednesday. Herrera works for the Foundation for Government Accountability, based in Florida. On its website, FGA says its mission is to replace failed health and welfare programs nationwide with […]

  • State

    Daylight saving time marches on in the state Legislature

    by Rhonda McBride on Mar 03, 21:40

    If Sen. Anna MacKinnon had her way, we wouldn’t set our clocks ahead by an hour this Sunday. This annual ritual would be no more. The Eagle River Republican has been fighting to abolish daylight saving time since 2006 when she served in the House and introduced a bill to eliminate it. The measure failed […]

  • State

    Governor and House majority leaders square off over gas line legislation

    by Rhonda McBride on Mar 02, 19:12

     Updated Tuesday, March 3 at 6:30 a.m. The philosophical divide between the governor and the Republican majority was already huge — but with the introduction of House Bill 132 Monday, the gap grew even wider. Five members of the House leadership sponsored HB 132: House Speaker Mike Chenault, House Majority Leader Charisse Millett, Legislative Budget […]

  • State

    Juneau: Showdown over Medicaid expansion

    by Rhonda McBride on Feb 26, 22:53

    It’s no secret. Republicans in the House majority are not champions of Medicaid expansion. They say the system is broken and the costs threaten to gobble up bigger slices of the state budget every year. But expanding the federal program in Alaska is one of Gov. Bill Walker’s top priorities. His administration says it would […]

  • State

    UPDATE: Barrow lawmaker Rep. Ben Nageak remains hospitalized

    by Rhonda McBride on Feb 25, 11:57

    Last Updated: Feb. 26, 2015 at 7 a.m. Normally when Rep. Ben Nageak speaks on the House floor, his colleagues expect to hear his booming voice — especially on the subject of developing oil and gas in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. But on Tuesday, when the Barrow lawmaker’s voice suddenly faltered while talking about […]

  • State

    In Juneau, marijuana legislation still a work in progress

    by Rhonda McBride on Feb 24, 22:08

    “Marijuana for personal use is legal, as of today,” said Sen. Anna MacKinnon as she opened a Senate Finance committee hearing on Tuesday morning, acknowledging that the marijuana initiative voters approved last fall is now officially state law. MacKinnon is co-chair of the committee, which just received Senate Bill 30 from the Senate Judiciary committee, […]

  • State

    Sex trafficking bill gets mixed reviews at first hearing

    by Rhonda McBride on Feb 24, 7:57

    If the number of the bill sounds familiar, lawmakers say it’s an accident. Senate Bill 21 — the number of a highly controversial oil tax reform bill that cleared the Legislature two years ago — is the same number for a sex trafficking bill this session. Other than a number, both have another thing in […]

  • Alaska

    Marijuana measure moves out of Senate Judiciary committee

    by Rhonda McBride on Feb 20, 22:37

    Gianno Barrett has mixed feelings about next Tuesday, when the marijuana initiative voters approved last fall takes effect. On the one hand, he’s excited. “It’s a step in the right direction,” Barrett said. “But there’s still a long journey ahead.” Barrett – who lives in Juneau — has followed dozens of legislative hearings on marijuana very […]

  • State

    Governor’s actions on natural gas raise concerns for Republican majority

    by Rhonda McBride on Feb 20, 16:12

    There’s speculation Gov. Bill Walker’s latest move on natural gas development was part of a political strategy to divert anticipated criticism from the Republican majority over his three appointments to the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation (AGDC). The night before he made his announcement, his opinion piece, published on the Alaska Dispatch News website, generated buzz […]

  • Alaska

    Sikuliaq stops in Juneau

    by Rhonda McBride on Feb 18, 8:16

    From stem to stern, the Sikuliaq is like the Leatherman of arctic research ships. It has cranes, high-tech sensors, sophisticated lab equipment and robotics, putting important tools for scientists all in one place. It’s also capable of busting through 2 ½ feet of sea ice. Most research vessels are not built from scratch. Usually they’re converted […]

  • State

    Alaska’s marijuana initiative likely to take effect without a new law

    by Rhonda McBride on Feb 16, 14:35

    Though there have been dozens of committee hearings on regulating marijuana since the start of the legislative session, it doesn’t look like the Legislature will make its Feb. 24 deadline. The hope was to have a law on the books decriminalizing marijuana before the date set by the initiative that voters passed in November. “No we’re not […]

  • State

    AK Legislature: Erin’s Law is back again

    by Rhonda McBride on Feb 13, 22:40

    “Erin’s Law” is back again. The bill was expected to pass with broad bipartisan support last session, but it died in the final days of the Legislature. Rep. Geran Tarr, an Anchorage Democrat, reintroduced the measure this session. House Bill 29 would mandate all school districts in Alaska to offer education and prevention programs on child […]

  • News

    Lawmakers wrestle with governor’s budget numbers

    by Rhonda McBride on Feb 13, 8:49

    There are budgets. And there are budgets. Lawmakers themselves have moved pots of money around to make it look like they’ve cut more — or at the end of the budget cycle, when there’s less scrutiny, passed supplemental spending bills to restore funding. Given their own history, it’s not surprising they would look at Gov. […]

  • State

    Juneau Access Road gets a reprieve

    by Rhonda McBride on Feb 11, 8:10

    In Juneau, it’s simply called “The Road.” But everyone from Juneau to Haines to Skagway knows what it refers to: the Juneau Access Improvements Project, which has divided the region for more than two decades. After Gov. Bill Walker, in an attempt to get control of a runaway budget, put the brakes on six megaprojects – including […]

  • State

    Alaska lawmakers prepare message for Interior Secretary Sally Jewell

    by Rhonda McBride on Feb 09, 22:43

    As lawmakers in the House passed yet another unanimous resolution on Monday supporting development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, it seemed as if they were trying out their message for U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, who visits Alaska next week. “If we dash off words of anger to those whose minds we are trying to […]

  • State

    Alaska lawmakers navigate marijuana maze

    by Rhonda McBride on Feb 07, 12:28

    You could see the fatigue in their faces on the House Judiciary committee on Friday, as mind-numbing testimony on marijuana decriminalization droned on — one of a half-dozen hearings this past week on how to implement Ballot Measure 2, the initiative voters approved last year. The tortoise pace of committee hearings is in sharp contrast […]

  • State

    The budget axe falls hard on state

    by Rhonda McBride on Feb 05, 13:16

    Last updated Friday, Feb. 6 Gov. Bill Walker’s latest version of the budget, announced Thursday, calls for deeper cuts to state government. The governor and his budget director, Pat Pitney, say there will be about $240 million less in agency spending. This money comes from unrestricted general funds, money that doesn’t already have a dedicated […]

  • State

    House passes ANWR resolution in protest of the president, sets aside another

    by Rhonda McBride on Feb 05, 7:22

    The legislative process is not just politics but also theater. And the House floor was the stage for both on Wednesday when two resolutions on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge were up for a vote. The first, House Joint Resolution 9 – which calls on Congress to open the refuge to oil and development — was suddenly […]

  • State

    Walker to release budget proposal to Alaska lawmakers Wednesday night

    by Rhonda McBride on Feb 04, 19:44

    A spokesperson for Gov. Bill Walker says the budget for the coming fiscal year is going out to lawmakers on Wednesday night, before it’s made public on Thursday afternoon. An email also went out to state employees on Wednesday forewarning them of major cuts to the workforce. “My FY2016 budget proposal includes staff reductions and […]

  • State

    Fighting the Feds: Another state lawmaker calls for civil disobedience

    by Rhonda McBride on Feb 04, 7:37

    State lawmakers are supposed to make the laws, not break them. But an increasing number of legislators say it may be necessary to engage in acts of civil disobedience to get a point across to President Barack Obama and the nation. “Fight the feds,” has long been the rallying cry at the State Capitol, one […]