Here is where we are with the Legislature as time runs out:
HB 184: The companion bill for SB 72, antidiscrimination. This is being heard in House State Affairs on Thursday, May 3,3 pm, Rm 120. The bill can be found here: <http://www.akleg.gov/basis/
This bill adds “sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression” to the list of protections provided in the anti-discrimination laws. The House version also adds specific language relating to a ministerial exception. Representative Josephson’s staff person, Megan Holland, assured me in an email that both bills do the same thing. She asked that the League submit a letter similar to the one submitted to the Senate concerning SB 72. I have done that, and I would urge you to do the same if you think that equal rights should be extended to all citizens. You can also write Senator.Berta.Gardner@akleg.
HB 111: Oil Tax Credits. This bill has passed the House and been sent to the Senate. According to several Representatives (Claman & Wielechowski), the bill has been revised in ways that weaken it while at the same time adopting some of the changes in the House bill. It is interesting to see the ways that per barrel taxes can look better while other aspects of the deal can wipe away the per barrel increases and actually increase benefits for the oil producers. So should you feel that an email is required, I would suggest asking for a bill that is fair for the State and its citizens. The Senate has the ability to protect Alaskan residents from the complexity of oil credits and taxes by demanding a fair arrangement for both Alaska and oil producers. The public testimony Saturday, April 29, from 9-11 am in the Senate Finance Committee was apparently not well attended; no doubt many citizens don’t feel able to discuss such a complex financial issue. However, a variety of hearings are scheduled throughout the coming week, so you can ask for fairness and be sure to copy your Senator. Senate Finance members: co-Chairs Hoffman & MacKinnon, V-Chair Bishop, and Micciche, Dunleavy, Von Imhof, & Olson.
HB 115: Income tax. There are currently no scheduled hearings on this bill, but that could change on Sunday if more hearings are added. Public testimony this week included callers from all over the state, and by my count, the pro-con ratio was 60% for and 40% against. The bill is still in the Senate Labor and Commerce committee.
Action at the National Level
The President of the LWVUS has resubmitted a memo for the current version of the ACA repeal and replace bill that was thought to be up for a vote this weekend. But then the news came that there weren’t enough votes. Apparently the Freedom Caucus was supportive of this second version, but the more moderate Republicans were not as thrilled. We expect there will be continued attempts to replace the ACA rather than fix its weaknesses. Time is reporting that a vote might happen next week. The current version is worse for most citizens than the previous version As a result, the notion of single payer or Medicare for all is gaining popularity, but not with the people who can do something about it. If you want to call or email your elected officials in DC on this topic, here is the contact information.
- Senator Lisa Murkowski 1-202-224-6665
- Senator Dan Sullivan 1-202-224-3004
- Representative Don Young 1-202-224-3121
To email your Senators, go to senate.gov and click on Senators in the read heading bar to the far left. To email Rep Young, go to www.house.gov and enter your zip code near the map in the upper far right.
Here are some talking points recommended by LWVUS.
- The House leadership should be working to improve the existing law (ACA), but instead they have said that in the near future they’ll once again try to repeal the law – leaving 24 million people in America without health care coverage.
- The ACA is more popular with the public than ever according to recent polling. In recent polling, Pew Research shows a favorability rating of 11 points, PPP is the highest with 16 points, Gallup with 14, and even FOX News shows a 3 point favorability. The average favorability of the total seven polls is +7.5
- A majority of people want affordable coverage for pre-existing conditions, coverage for preventitive health care, coverage of young adults on parents’ insurance, coverage for mental health and opioid addictions, coverage for women’s health, and expansion of Medicaid.
- Much has been said about the repeal/replace bill providing access to health care, but in reality there can be no access without the funds to pay for that access. That is why affordability is so important.
Let your voice be heard!