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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

  • Alaska

    Grand opening of Walter Soboleff Center in Juneau

    by Rhonda McBride on May 15, 8:07

    There will be dancing in the streets of Friday to celebrate the grand opening of the Walter Soboleff Center in Juneau, starting with a children’s dance group from Angoon, the hometown of the building’s namesake. Dr. Walter Soboleff was an elder Tlingit statesman and spiritual leader who died at the age of 102. Throughout his […]

  • State

    Special sessions: More likely than not

    by Rhonda McBride on Apr 21, 10:50

    Special sessions. How “special” are they really? In most years, the odds of a special session of the Alaska Legislature are pretty good. In the last decade, there have been more than a dozen. So how much does it cost the state when lawmakers go into those extra legislative innings? Pam Varni, head of the Legislative […]

  • State

    End of session budget bottleneck keeps Legislature in overtime

    by Rhonda McBride on Apr 19, 22:01

    On the final day of the legislative session, lawmakers weren’t ready to cash in their chips yet. It appeared there were a few more hands of high-stakes political poker to play over the operating and capital budgets. On Sunday night, just hours before midnight when the 90-day session was set to expire, the House recessed […]

  • State

    Alaska Legislature confirms Craig Richards as attorney general

    by Rhonda McBride on Apr 19, 15:10

    One of Gov. Bill Walker’s most controversial appointments, Craig Richards, has been confirmed by the Legislature as attorney general. Thirty-one votes are required for confirmation. Richards was confirmed 36-23 in a joint session of the Legislature, which got underway at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday. There was speculation Richards might not be confirmed, because the Republican Majority […]

  • State

    Medicaid expansion and reform likely taken up in special session

    by Rhonda McBride on Apr 19, 14:05

    It’s Day 90 of the legislative session, with work on capital and operating budgets still underway. House and Senate Majority leaders say there isn’t time to give the governor’s bill on Medicaid expansion and reform its due. On Saturday, Gov. Bill Walker said he was preparing for a special session and would soon be talking […]

  • State

    AKLeg Day 88: Race to the finish of session begins with drama, uncertainty

    by Rhonda McBride on Apr 18, 12:21

    Friday, the 88th day of the 90-day legislative session, was full of the drama that characterizes the end-of-session chaos. The day started out with the governor calling off a joint session of the House and Senate he had ordered, to get lawmakers to vote on his cabinet and board appointments. The governor demanded the session […]

  • State

    Medicaid expansion supporters grow more vocal as session comes to a close

    by Rhonda McBride on Apr 17, 7:57

    The pressure on lawmakers to pass Gov. Bill Walker’s Medicaid expansion bill continues to grow as church coalitions ask their congregations to write letters and attend rallies in support. One is planned at Wasilla Lake at noon on Friday at Newcomb Park. Two were held on Thursday, one in Anchorage and another on the Capitol […]

  • State

    Governor orders joint session: Another showdown between executive, legislative branches

    by Rhonda McBride on Apr 17, 7:36

    The Legislature will convene in joint session at 10 a.m. Friday morning at the call of Gov. Bill Walker. He wants them to vote on his cabinet and board appointments. Republican Majority leaders had originally scheduled the confirmation vote for Friday afternoon, but suddenly postponed it in the middle of a battle with the governor […]

  • State

    Drama over confirmation vote: Clash between governor and Legislature not unprecedented

    by Rhonda McBride on Apr 15, 17:34

    Updated Thursday, April 16 at 9 a.m. Gov. Bill Walker took an extraordinary step on Wednesday. He issued an executive order calling the Legislature in joint session to vote on his cabinet and board appointments. The governor has scheduled Friday morning for the vote. Legislative leaders had originally set aside Friday afternoon, but postponed it. […]

  • State

    Senate Republican Majority not ready to vote on Medicaid expansion

    by Rhonda McBride on Apr 14, 21:57

    Senate Republican Majority leaders on Tuesday sounded a lot like they were laying the groundwork to hold up a vote on House Bill 148, a Medicaid expansion and reform measure the governor introduced at their request. Sen. John Coghill, the Senate Majority leader, said he continues have doubts about whether the necessary reform would take […]

  • State

    Rally at Capitol in Juneau draws attention to education funding

    by Rhonda McBride on Apr 12, 16:56

    A crowd of about 500 people tried to breach the invisible bubble that surrounds the State Capitol during the legislative session. Parents, with children in tow, as well as longtime education advocates, gathered in the courtyard across from the Capitol on a blustery Saturday afternoon. Their array of bright colored jackets stood out against the […]

  • State

    Education funding in Alaska part of the legislative end game

    by Rhonda McBride on Apr 11, 14:03

    With one week left to go in the 90-day session, education funding is shaping up to be one of the big battles. Though disappointed with the governor’s plans to trim $32 million in forward funding for schools, education advocates have been relatively quiet.  They were hoping there would be no further cuts. But last week, […]

  • State

    Governor announces plans to veto pipeline bill

    by Rhonda McBride on Apr 10, 22:03

    An ugly fight between Gov. Bill Walker and the Republican majority is about to escalate. The governor sent a letter to each lawmaker on Friday explaining the reasons he plans to veto a pipeline bill and asked them not to support a veto override. When House Bill 132 was first introduced, Walker held a news […]

  • State

    Polls show support for governor and Medicaid expansion

    by Rhonda McBride on Apr 10, 8:31

    With the meter set to expire soon on the Legislature’s 90-day session, the big question around the state capitol: Is there enough time left to get a Medicaid expansion and reform bill passed? Or, will lawmakers be forced to go into overtime to finish work on a bill that seems to have popular support. A […]

  • State

    House passes penny-a-gallon tax for refined fuels

    by Rhonda McBride on Apr 09, 9:53

    After lengthy debate, the House narrowly passed a bill that would impose a penny-a-gallon tax on refined fuels. There’s been considerable argument about whether this is truly a tax. Some say it’s a surcharge or a fee. But whatever you call it, the bottom line is Alaskans will pay more for gasoline and home heating […]

  • State

    Alaska’s budget blues get bigger

    by Rhonda McBride on Apr 08, 10:04

    With every drop in the price of oil, digging out from Alaska’s budget deficit gets harder. Lawmakers have been talking about a $3.5 billion budget gap all session. But after the latest revenue forecast, that hole got deeper — with a revenue shortfall now approaching $4 billion. Despite all the headlines about the drastic cuts […]

  • State

    Senate Finance Committee makes deeper cuts to budget

    by Rhonda McBride on Apr 02, 21:05

    The Senate Finance Committee delivered on a promise that it would wield the biggest, baddest budget ax of them all — that its cuts would run deeper than those made by the governor and the House. Sen. Pete Kelly, co-chair of the committee, said the state is spending about $750 million less compared to last […]

  • State

    Senate Finance Committee cuts state employee raises

    by Rhonda McBride on Apr 01, 20:06

    The Senate Finance Committee found more than $50 million in savings on Wednesday, savings that will come at the expense of state employees. The committee, while putting the finishing touches on the state operating budget, eliminated pay raises for state workers. It passed an amendment that would reopen contracts the state has signed with more […]

  • State

    Bill to decriminalize marijuana clears the Senate

    by Rhonda McBride on Mar 30, 14:31

      A bill to decriminalize marijuana cleared the state Senate Monday by a 17 to 3 margin. Senate Bill 30 has gone through various permutations, seesawing between taking pot off the state’s list of controlled substances to putting it back on. Opponents to the bill, three Democrats, said the legislation did not comply with the […]

  • State

    Low-income workers say Medicaid expansion would help

    by Rhonda McBride on Mar 30, 9:14

    The House Health and Social Services Committee heard from a number of working Alaskans who fall in the Medicaid coverage gap. The committee took several hours of testimony on Saturday on House Bill 148, legislation to reform and expand Medicaid, introduced by Gov. Bill Walker. Most of those who weighed in said they support Medicaid […]