State lawmakers have pre-filed more than 50 bills in advance of the legislative session.
A number of bills deal with civil liberties issues. One would put limits on when and how drones could be used in police investigations. A different item would seal off court records in cases that resulted in a dismissal or not-guilty verdict. There’s also a bill to regulate the practice of students being restrained or put in seclusion over the course of disciplinary action, and another to formalize grievance procedures for people undergoing mental health treatment. One piece of legislation would also bring “Erin’s Law” to Alaska, by requiring schools to run awareness programs to curb sexual abuse and assault.
Lawmakers also introduced a few education bills. The chair of the Senate Education Committee filed legislation that would create a new elementary school reading program. Bills introduced in the House and Senate would repeal the state’s secondary school exit exam. Legislation from the chair of the House Finance subcommittee on education would get rid of the requirement that city and borough governments contribute funding to their school districts.
A trio of Democratic women in the House have introduced a suite of legislation concerning women’s issues. One of their bills would reestablish the Commission on the Status of Women, another would require employers to give their workers break time for breastfeeding, and a third would require employers to offer sick leave and allow that leave to be used in situations involving domestic violence or sexual assault. They’ve also proposed upping the eligibility level for the DenaliKidcare medical assistance program to 200 percent of the poverty line. The Legislature approved an increase to the program, which serves children and pregnant women, in 2010, but Gov. Sean Parnell vetoed the legislation because a fraction of those funds go to abortion-related services.
One constitutional amendment was filed. It would make the office of attorney general an electable position instead of an appointed one.
Only one piece of bipartisan legislation was offered. A mix of four lawmakers from the House majority and minority caucuses has filed legislation that would make the Native languages like Yup’ik and Tlingit official languages for the state. A group of House Democrats and a group of House Republicans separately filed two nearly identical bills that would reject pay raises for the governor and his cabinet.
A couple of quirky items were also introduced. One would allow cocktails to be served on golf courses, in addition to beer and wine, and another would make it so the Department of Revenue doesn’t have to register cattle brands.
The Legislature will gavel in on January 21.