The 35th day of the Alaska Legislature brought us the legalization of hemp farming, 27 new personal bills and a slate of candidates for House District 38 that are getting high marks from the Legislature. Here’s what happened and what to look forward to.
Just 55 days to go (in the regular 90-day session).
The House passed House Bill 20, which would allow elected officials like legislators solemnize marriage certificates. The bill didn’t touch any issues surrounding same sex marriage, and the House rejected amendments by Rep. David Eastman that would’ve allowed people to reject to officiate marriages. The bill passed 33-6.
The House also signed off on Sen. Shelley Hughes’ Senate Bill 6, which legalizes hemp farming in Alaska. According to a report by the Juneau Empire, the legislation would make Alaska the 35th state in the country to legalize the farming of hemp. Barring unforeseen hitches, the bill should be get a concurrence vote from the Senate and be headed to the governor’s desk for signing. Similar legislation was also carried by former Anchorage Sen. Johnny Ellis, who got a call shortly after the vote by Hughes to invite him to the bill signing.
Unanimous vote to legalize Industrial Hemp production in AK !! I thank Reps Tarr and Drummond for mentioning my efforts. And I thank my former staffer, Matt Moser for his pro hemp work to get us to this day.
— Johnny Ellis (@SenJohnnyEllis) February 19, 2018
Just spoke 2 Sen Shelley Hughes. Congrats on House passage of her SB 6 re hemp. She wants me there when Gov Walker signs bill. She is in Senate minority of 1 so a very impressive achievement to get it out of Senate !
— Johnny Ellis (@SenJohnnyEllis) February 19, 2018
Last day for bills
Day 35 marked the deadline for legislators to introduce personal bills and resolutions, and the Senate really took advantage of it. Senators introduced 25 bills and four resolutions. The House had two bills and three resolutions to introduce (Friday was a pretty busy day for the House). From here on out any new legislation will have to be introduced by a standing committee. Here’s a quick hit list of what was introduced on Monday.
- HB 358 INSURANCE COVERAGE FOR TELEHEALTH by REP. SPOHNHOLZ
- HB 360 STATE INTERNET PROCUREMENT by REP. KAWASAKI
- HCR 21 MARCH 27, 2018:AK EDUCATION & SHARING DAY by REP. DRUMMOND
- HCR 22 APRIL 2018:SEXUAL ASSAULT AWARENESS MONTH by REP. MILLETT
- HJR 35 URGING CO-MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR SEA OTTERS by REP. MILLETT
- SB 188 TEACHERS: BOARD CERTIFICATION INCENTIVES by SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI
- SB 189 ALCOHOL LICENSE: BEV DISPENSE./RESTAURANT by SENATOR MICCICHE
- SB 190 ENERGY EFFICIENCY OF PUBLIC BUILDINGS be SENATOR BEGICH
- SB 191 ST. ENERGY POLICY:PUB. BLDGS/CLEAN ENERGY by SENATOR BEGICH
- SB 192 VOTER ADDRESS CONFIDENTIALITY by SENATOR MACKINNON
- SB 193 MED. ASSISTANCE WORK REQUIREMENT by SENATOR KELLY
- SB 194 DRONES: DISORDERLY COND/INDECENT VIEWING by SENATOR HUGHES
- SB 195 TRANSFERS FROM DIVIDEND FUND; CRIMES by SENATOR HUGHES
- SB 196 APPROP LIMIT; PERM FUND DISTRIB. LIMIT by SENATE FINANCE
- SB 197 MILITARY JUSTICE & MILITIA CIVIL RELIEF by SENATOR COSTELLO
- SB 198 UAA LONG-ACTING CONTRACEPTION STUDY by SENATOR KELLY
- SB 199 DALTON HWY ORV ACCESS TO PRIVATE PROPERTY by SENATOR KELLY BY REQUEST
- SB 200 LOW-SPEED VEHICLES by SENATOR EGAN
- SB 201 SAFE ROUTES TO SCHOOL PROGRAM; GRANTS by SENATOR COSTELLO
- SB 202 NATIVE CORP. LIABILITY FOR CONTAMINATION by SENATOR HOFFMAN
- SB 203 AIDEA BONDS FOR GRAPHITE CREEK by SENATOR OLSON
- SB 204 DISABLED VET PLATES:CHIROPRACTORS CERTIFY by SENATOR EGAN
- SB 205 TELECOMMUNICATIONS REGULATION/EXEMPTIONS by SENATOR MEYER
- SB 206 REPEAL OIL & GAS PER BARREL PROD. CREDITS by SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI
- SB 207 TRANSFER DUTIES FROM DCCED by SENATOR COSTELLO
- SB 208 MARCH: SOBRIETY AWARENESS MONTH by SENATOR GARDNER
- SB 209 PRESCRIPTION DRUG PRICING by SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI
- SB 210 FOOD LABELING ON MENUS by SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI
- SB 211 TEMP. TRANSFER OF COMM. FISHING PERMITS by SENATOR STEVENS
- SB 212 PEACE OFFICER/FIREFIGHTER RETIRE BENEFITS by SENATOR KELLY
- SCR 18 NOVEMBER 2018: DIABETIC EYE DISEASE MONTH by SENATOR COSTELLO
- SJR 4 AK LEGALLY ACQUIRED IVORY USE EXEMPTION by SENATOR OLSON
- SJR 13 URGING CO-MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR SEA OTTERS by SENATOR STEDMAN
- SJR 14 CONST. AM: PARENTAL CONSENT TO ABORTION by SENATOR OLSON
Budget closeouts began
The House Finance Subcommittee on the court system closed out the court budget on Monday, marking the first in a flurry of close outs this week. The committee didn’t do much to change the $109 million budget other than deleting some excess authority to bill the federal government.
The committee also harped a bit on the court system’s decision to close early on Fridays (something that also came up during the House floor debate on the marriage solemnization bill). Representatives suggested that perhaps other days were better for the closure, with Wednesday or Monday mornings being suggested.
Reps. Matt Claman and Chuck Kopp both rejected the ideas. Kopp reminded the committee that a load of arraignments from the weekend are often dealt with on Monday mornings and Claman said the courts have carefully considered the closures and legislators shouldn’t get into the business of micromanaging the courts.
“Let’s let the courts manage the courts,” he said.
Near-universal opposition to abortion bill
Sen. Cathy Giessel’s Senate Bill 124, which would require doctors to deliver a fetus so it can be put up for adoption when considering a late-term abortion for most reasons, got a frigid response during public testimony hearing on Monday. Supporters of abortion and reproductive rights blasted the bill, calling it “condescending, dangerous, offensive, ridiculous and a waste of time.” Opponents of abortion were unhappy the bill didn’t go further, calling the bill “wicked, evil and pro-baby murder.”
Still, the committee decided that it heard enough and moved the bill after the hearing. Its next stop will be in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Senate sends Congress message on ivory
The Senate passed Sen. Donny Olson’s Senate Joint Resolution 4 on Monday, urging Congress to exempt legally obtained walrus, mammoth and mastodon ivory from laws intended to stop poaching of elephants. It’s an issue that has recently caught the attention of Alaska’s congressional delegation.
The resolution now heads over to the House.
What we’re reading
The Binkley family is expanding its ownership of Alaska media with the purchase of the Alaska Journal of Commerce, the Chugiak-Eagle River star and the Alaskan Equipment Trader. Read: Binkleys to purchase three more Alaska media outlets via KTVF.