Legislators today released thirty new bills that will be formally read into the record when the House and Senate convene later this month. They will be added to those already on the table from last year’s legislative session. Covering a wide range of topics, some promise to be controversial – and some might be welcomed by the public.
Fairbanks Democrat Scott Kawasaki wants to make it illegal for political campaigns to use automated, pre-recorded phone messages — or robocalls — to contact voters. And Chugiak Republican Bill Stolze wants to make illegal the substance sold as “Bath Salts” – a synthetic form of Cathinone that effects user in a way similar to meth.
Another higher profile bill would remove doubts that it is illegal to send or read text messages when driving. Anchorage Democrat Les Gara and Haines Republican Bill Thomas have jointly sponsored the bill. Gara says the bill came about after some judges followed the logic of a Kenai magistrate who raised doubts about the existing law banning the use of screens in moving vehicles.
Rep. Thomas and I have talked about it. You’re a moving weapon if you’re looking at a keyboard when you’re supposed to be driving. You’re driving a 3000-pound car while you’re essentially playing a game. We have to shift the public’s attitude from this is some socializing, which I understand, to realizing that you’ve become a weapon now, and you can kill somebody.
He says the bill is specific — it does not relate to any other cell-phone bills that are pending in the legislature.
A constitutional amendment will be up for consideration – this one by Anchorage Democrat Bill Wielechowski — would automatically put two-thirds of any excess reserves directly into the Constitutional Budget Reserve fund, which would protect it from being spent by a simple majority vote of the House and Senate. That would only happen if voters approve the measure during this fall’s elections.
And Anchorage’s Johnny Ellis has a bill that would put $2-Billion toward covering the anticipated shortfall in state pension needs. He would also put another $2-Billion directly into the body of the Permanent Fund.
The thirty new bills will be referred to committees on January 17th, when the legislature begins its ninety day session.
A list of the bill titles can be found at: http://w3.legis.state.ak.us/docs/pdf/2012_1stPrefiles.pdf