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Alaska travelers, civilian military employees will soon need a passport unless Legislature passes REAL ID bill

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Updated: Thu 3:03 PM, Mar 23, 2017

JUNEAU, Alaska (KTUU) – The Department of Homeland Security has been warning Alaska policymakers for more than a decade to bring state law into compliance with the REAL ID Act, or else.

The latest else will arrive on the anniversary of D-Day, June 6, when Alaskans who need access to military bases will be required to have an ID that fits the federal guidelines established in 2005. And this time around, the feds insist they will not approve another extension. Still, it remains unclear if the Legislature will prioritize passage of House Bill 74 or Senate Bill 34, proposals that would reverse a 2008 law that prohibited the DMV from spending any money to comply with the federal identification law. Over the years, one persistent concern has kept the state from complying with the federal identification rules: the notion that personal information about Alaskans would end up in national or even perhaps an international databases, something that would not happen, according to DHS.

Unless that concern is addressed adequately enough that lawmakers act soon and pass one of the bills that will get the Department of Motor Vehicles up to speed, civilian construction workers, teachers, and many others would need to carry a current U.S. passport to show up to work.

“It doesn’t mean you can’t come on post or base. It means that you have to be escorted,” said Maj. Gen. Laurel Hummel, who acts as the adjutant general of the Alaska National Guard.

“If they’re escorting, then they’re not doing their job, and so it has a mission impact for sure,” added Lt. Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach, the top U.S. Air Force official in the state. “For example, the construction workers at Eielson Air Force Base, who build the facilities for the F-35, if there’s a slowdown there and we get behind schedule, then that’s a significant problem.”

Hummel said the state Department of Military and Veterans’ Affairs is worried enough about civilian workers needing escorts on base that she sent a letter to all employees suggesting they apply for a passport soon. And six months after the June deadline — if a new law does not take effect and no waiver is approved — the problems would only get dramatically worse. If the impasse continues, Alaskans would need to acquire a valid passport to pass through airport security starting Jan. 22, 2018, and people who show up with nothing but a state-issued driver’s license would be turned away. Administration Commissioner Sheldon Fisher, whose job includes oversight of the DMV, said he agrees that the looming deadlines need to be taken seriously.

“Today, there are five other states that have not passed REAL ID that are in fact being restricted to military bases,” he said in an interview. ” So it seems like the federal government will enforce it as they’ve said.”

Washington’s high-scoring Plum leaves opponents befuddled

Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer sees something familiar when he watches Washington guard Kelsey Plum.

The Houston native and Rockets fan said Plum affects the game the same way NBA superstar James Harden does.

They run a lot of stuff that the Rockets run, Schaefer said. They spread the floor. They play off of her. She s smart enough to find who is open, and those kids can make shots. Washington s dynamic senior has averaged at least 20 points in each of her four seasons, and she has broken Jackie Stiles NCAA career and single-season scoring records this season. Schaefer is the next coach who will try to devise a plan to slow Plum when his Bulldogs face the Huskies on Friday in the Sweet 16. If it s any consolation, those who play with Plum most often her teammates don t have answers for her unorthodox game, either. She has a lightning-quick left-handed release on deep shots, but she can dribble and finish easily with either hand. Though she s just 5-foot-8, she has an array of different ways to score in the paint.

It s definitely not easy, Washington guard Aarion McDonald said of practice. Kelsey is a crafty player, so she always keeps us on our toes. One minute, we might stop her, but next time down, she gets us back. So we re like, How do we guard her?

Plum is averaging 31.8 points per game this season with a high game of 57 points. Washington guard Natalie Romeo said practicing against Plum makes her a better defender.

I think guarding all her different moves helps us because there s no one else who can imitate her, Romeo said. If we take away one thing, that s kind of saying what one player can do, but then Kelsey will come back with a counter, and then a counter counter. Guarding her will help us guard other really good players. There s more to Plum than just big scoring numbers. She shoots 53 percent from the field overall and 43 percent from 3-point range, and leads the team with 4.8 assists per game. Schaefer has faced a player of this caliber before he went 1-2 against Southwest Missouri State s Stiles when he was an assistant coach at Arkansas. He hopes for better luck against Plum.

Obviously Jackie Stiles, Kelsey Plum those are two of the best to ever play the game, and from an offensive standpoint, they are just so multi-dimensional, Schaefer said. Their coaches use them in such a good way, smart, and so it s a tall task. There s no question about it.

SO CLOSE

Mississippi State has yet to reach the Elite Eight. The Bulldogs have reached the Sweet 16 three times, including last year, but last season ended with a 98-38 loss to Connecticut.

Certainly last year at this time, wasn t the best, Schaefer said. But at the same time, I think our kids not only learned from that experience for this game, but I think they learned from it the entire season. I think it s obviously prepared us.

UNDERACHIEVERS?

Baylor has been near the top of women s college basketball for years, but the Lady Bears have at times fallen short of expectations in NCAA Tournament play. If history repeats itself, top-seeded Baylor could fall short again. The Lady Bears were a No. 1 seed in 2013 when they lost to Louisville in Oklahoma City. Now, they again take a No. 1 seed into a Sweet 16 matchup Friday with Louisville, in the same building as the previous loss. The Lady Bears were a No. 1 seed in 2011 and lost in the Elite Eight. The Lady Bears were a No. 1 seed again last year when they lost to Oregon State in the Elite Eight.

Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said she doesn t make too much of the similar circumstances or the past upsets.

You win some you shouldn t and you lose some that you probably shouldn t, but you can t let them just kill your spirit, she said. You can t let them run you out of the business. You just motivate yourself, pick yourself back up and keep coaching.

SHE’S BACK

Baylor guard Alexis Jones, who missed a month with a knee injury, is back for the NCAA Tournament. She played 12 minutes in her first game back against Texas Southern and scored five points. In her second game, she played 22 minutes and had eight points, six rebounds and five assists in a win over California.

She looked good to me, Mulkey said. She missed some shots. I don t know if that had anything to do with her being off for a month, but she just gives us a sense of security.

MULKEY’S MISS

Mulkey was asked what stands out most about Louisville s Asia Durr, a sophomore guard who averages 19.4 points and has made 114 3-pointers this season.

That I recruited her and didn t get her, Mulkey said with a laugh. She then elaborated. She s a phenomenal player, Mulkey said. She can score from the perimeter. She can take you off the dribble. She was not healthy last year. Now she s healthy, and you re seeing the real Asia Durr, and she s just a handful to guard. They do a lot of things with her and through her. She is the catalyst that makes them go.

Who: Mississippi State vs. Washington

Where: Oklahoma City

When: 6 p.m. Friday

TV: ESPN2

Online: WatchESPN.com

Firm in $101M deal to support federal training site in Charleston area

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Coast Guard personnel demonstrate a maritime training exercise in 2013 at the Federal Law Enforcement Center in North Charleston. AP/File

A Maryland firm has landed a long-term contract valued at more than $101 million to help the government run the local Federal Law Enforcement Training Center[1]. The Department of Homeland Security recently awarded the seven-and-a-half year job to ASRC Federal Field Services. The deal was announced Thursday. The contract calls for the Beltsville, Md.-based company to take care of building and grounds maintenance and provide transportation for 400 trainees. It also will oversee janitorial services and operate the dining hall, among other tasks.

The federal training academy is made up of dozens of buildings, classrooms and training ranges on the former Navy base in North Charleston and the Naval Weapons Station in Hanahan. ASRC Federal CEO Mark Gray said the contract extends a working relationship the company has had with Homeland Security since 2003. The firm is a subsidiary of Arctic Slope Regional Corp., a Native Alaska-owned business with 13,000 I upiat Eskimo shareholders. The government established the North Charleston law enforcement school in 2004, after moving a U.S. Border Patrol training operation from the region to New Mexico.

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The Department of Homeland Security oversees the Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers.

The Cooper River site teaches basic and advanced law enforcement skills. It works with thousands of students annually from numerous federal agencies, including the Coast Guard, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the Marshals Service.

New and revised training includes seaport security antiterrorism, commercial vessel boarding, maritime tactical training, radiation detection, confined spaces entry and weapons of mass effect training, according to the center’s website.

References

  1. ^ Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (www.fletc.gov)
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