Here is the status of the bills we have been following plus one we might want to follow should there ever be a hearing.
A. SB 72–The following language would be added to the list of protected classes in state ant-discrimination statute: “sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression.” You can send an email of support to Senator.Berta.Gardner@akleg.
B. Bill to be aware of: HB 173: CLIMATE CHANGE COMMISSION Sponsor: Josephson, Tarr.
“An Act establishing the Alaska Climate Change Response Commission; relating to the powers and duties of the Alaska Climate Change Response Commission; establishing the climate change response fund; and relating to the surcharge on oil produced in the state.”
HB 173 was read and referred to House Resource and Finance. There have not been any hearings to date. Co-Chairs are the bill’s two sponsors and committee members are Westlake, Drummon, Parish, Birch, Johnson, Rauscher, Talerico, Tuck (alt.) If you feel such a Commission is important, drop your Representative a short email expressing your interest in the establishment of this Commission. The bill may not receive any attention until the budget issues are resolved, but it will be there in the second half of this 30th Legislature.
C. Hearings this week on bills we are following: There is no public testimony currently scheduled for any of these hearings. But they are all teleconferenced and can be watched on your computer.
1. HB 115: INCOME TAX; PFD CREDIT; PERM FUND INCOME Sponsor: House Finance
I attended a hearing on this bill for LWVAK on Wednesday. There was slightly more testimony in support of the bill than against. Some of the anti-bill statements are based on the erroneous idea that the PFD is being taken away from Alaskans. Others fear an income tax and don’t understand what the bill is actually going to do. The income tax will be a percent of the federal tax, but the PFD payment is exempt. It is unlikely that lower incomes will pay much if any state income tax. The other option is the state sales tax, which everyone would pay. Several times during the hearing the committee members tried to explain various aspects of the bill to folks testifying, but it was difficult for those testifying with pre-formed assumptions to actually hear what was being transmitted. The House has also put forward a bill to adjust oil tax credits. The House seems to be working hard on revenues for the state while the Senate may be focusing on further cuts–such as a 5% cut to education funding. The public has much anxiety about the issue, there are many sound bites floating around, and if you feel you can support HB 115, it is very important to let elected officials know of your support–both Representatives and Senators. LWVAK voted at a board meeting to support the income tax as a progressive measure to raise revenue and the Permanent Fund restructuring. More info on HB 115 can be found at this link: <http://akhouse.org/rep_
The two hearings currently scheduled: 4/3 Mon., House Finance, RM 519, 1 PM
AND 4/4 Tues., H FIN, Rm 519, 1:30 PM.
2. HB 111: Oil and Gas Tax Credits: Sponsor House Resources. This bill adjusts the tax credits and is a part of the budget fix proposed by the House. You might want to watch this hearing, although it will be dealing with amendments. Hearing: 4/7 Friday, H FIN, Rm 519, 1:30 PM. Hearing may run over until Saturday, 4/8 at 10 am to handle all amendments.
3. HB 25: Insurance Contraceptive Coverage: Sponsor Claman. Hearing: 4/6, Thurs., Rm 106, 3 PM
D. Bills that have moved to new committees. No hearings currently scheduled.
- HB 1: Early voting and same-day registration. This bill was moved our of to H Judiciary.
- HB 44: Ethics. Moved to H State Affairs.
- HB 175: National Popular Vote Compact. Moved to H Judiciary
- HB 31: Treatment of Sexual Assault Kits. Moved to H Finance
Time is running out for the 90-day session and apparently there are two options–extend to 120 days and continue to hear all bills or adjourn and begin a special session related to the budget only.