If you have been hesitant to email your elected state officials, here is a chance to jump in and get your feet wet.  And remember that once you contact them by email, their email addresses are in your email list and contacting them again will be much easier. You might want to gather together some friends and family and take turns writing emails or have them bring their smart phones or tablets and all write together; the more, the merrier.  Your opportunities are listed below for two important bills.

SB 72: Antidiscrimination: At the hearing last week, one argument from Anchorage against this bill was made that went something like this: “If a fashion designer can refuse to make an inauguration dress for Melania Trump, why can’t people refuse to serve the LGBTQ community?” Comparing an elegant evening gown to housing, food, and employment might not be the best argument. At present there is no protection statewide in Alaska that covers basic needs protection for “sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression.” Something that you may not be aware of is that, in addition to Juneau and Anchorage, Bethel has also passed an anti-discrimination ordinance that, although limited to city and city contract employment, is a move in the right direction.

Next hearing for public testimony: Monday, April 10, 1:30 pm, Rm 205. If you are outside Juneau, call your local LIO. If you are not comfortable with oral testimony, email; see below for ideas.

Hearing from Alaska League members outside of Juneau will be very helpful. Here are some talking points should you want to write an email in support of this bill:

  1. First sentence of the email might say something like this: I live in _____, Alaska, and I strongly support SB 72. I am writing to urge you to pass SB 72.
  2. Talking points: You can select one or make your own.
    1. The importance of protecting all our citizens and their civil rights is paramount in a functioning democracy. It is the role of government to protect the minority from the majority. Treatment of LGBTQ citizens has included job dismissals, housing loss, threats of bodily harm, harassment, and death. According to the CDC, LGBTQ youth are twice as likely to have attempted suicide as heterosexual youth.
    2. To date the importance of protecting basic civil rights for groups that have historically not been granted those rights has been extended to a variety of classes: “race, religion, color, national ancestry, physical or mental disability, age, sex, marital status, change in marital status, pregnancy, or parenthood.” This is the current language in the Alaska Statutes. Given the history of attacks on the civil rights of those within the LGBTQ community, it is imperative that “sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression” be added to that list.
  3. Closing: I strongly support SB 72 and urge the Senate Health and Social Services Committee to pass this important bill.  Thank you.

Email to the following: Representative.Berta.Gardner@akleg.govSenator.David.Wilson@akleg.govSenator.Tom.Begich@akleg.govSenator.Natasha.vonImhof@akleg.govSenator.Peter.Micciche@akleg.gov;Senator.Cathy.Giessel@akleg.gov

Also to your own Senator if not in this group.

HB 115: Income tax, Permanent Fund restructuring, State revenue

If you have read Caren’s Capitol Currents for this week, you see that there is some doubt that additional revenues are going to be part of the budget fix. We must let our voices be heard on this issue immediately. The hearings will continue in the House Finance committee, so contact those members via housefinance@akleg.gov There is LWVUS support for the following principles of good government:

  1. Efficient and economical government requires adequate financing based in part on an equitable (progressive) and flexible system of taxation.
  2. Government should share in the solution of economic and social problems that affect the general welfare.

If you are not sure what to say, use variations of these principles in your email. You might mention the proposed 5% to public education as not being a wise idea, while you are at it.  Your subject heading can read: SB 72: Letter of support (or whatever bill number you are writing about).

HB 205 (new): Prohibit Sanctuary Municipalities  Sponsors: Eastman, Millett, Chenault, Thompson, Wilson, Saddler, Reinbold, Knopp.

“An Act prohibiting a municipality from adopting or enforcing a policy or ordinance relating to sanctuary jurisdictions; and providing for an effective date.”

Bill was read the first time on 3/31 and referred to Community & Regional Affairs and Judicial. The text of the bill can be found here: http://www.legis.state.ak.us/PDF/30/Bills/HB0205A.PDF  One concern is the Executive Order threatening to withdraw federal funding although there may be a national court case against such a withdrawal based on states’ rights.  Stayed tuned: should be an interesting hearing if one is ever scheduled.  Caren mentioned this new bill in her last Currents, and I thought some of you might be curious. Presently there are no hearings scheduled for HB 205 and there are no other documents filed on the webpage.

If you have already contacted the Legislature about these first two bills, that is splendid. If not, this is your chance!  Encourage others to do the same and get educated about the proposals in HB 115.