Legislature releases pre-files, including tribal court protective order bill

The state Legislature released 31 pre-filed bills today. That’s the legislation submitted before lawmakers convene, that they plan to discuss – and possibly vote on – in the next several months.

Dillingham Rep. Bryce Edgmon submitted one of those bills, which would direct the State of Alaska to recognize protective orders issued by tribal governments.

“It’s a bill that would essentially bring the state into compliance with federal law regarding tribal courts and their ability to issue protective orders, primarily around domestic violence incidents,” Edgmon said.

Right now, when a tribal court issues a protective order, it has to be officially registered with the state to be enforced here. Edgmon’s bill, House Bill 222, would change that, so they’re recognized – and enforced – without being registered.

“So it’s in one hand a technical fix, and on the other hand, a pretty important step forward for tribal courts to gain more authority visa vi state law,” he said.

Edgmon said that so far, the bill has quite a bit of support at the state-level, including from the attorney general and department of public safety. But Egetting it passed during the 90 day session could still be a challenge, given everything that’s on the table.

“A huge budget deficit, other major legislation in the pipeline, and it of course being the second year of a two year cycle with election year politics in the background,” he said. “The other obstacle, and we’ll know more about this once we start to push the bill through, is historically anything that has tribe attached to it raises eyebrows among those in the Legislature who really have no knowledge of what tribes are about.”

Other pre-files include a bill that get rid of the state’s new Alaska Measures of Progress test, and one that would get rid of the current 90-day limit to the session. In House Bill 221, Republican Mike Hawker offered another take on solving the state’s budget deficit, including a new formula for calculating permanent fund dividends and a state income tax if there isn’t another way to balance the books.

The second batch of pre-files will be released Jan. 15. The second half of the 29th Legislative Session starts Jan. 19 in Juneau.