2024, Alaska, Newsletter

Newsletter Vol 2 Issue 5

Last Updated: March 25th, 2024

Mid-session blues…

No news from the Governor yet on the fate of SB140. 

Gov. Dunleavy has until March 14th to either sign, or veto, or let the bill stand without his signature. Even if he lets the bill stand, he still has the power to line item veto any funding that would be included in the budget. Some school systems in Alaska are banking on some money in their budgets, some are not. Seems nothing will be fully decided until June. This puts students and schools in a last minute scramble for yet another year.

Reminder:  If you miss any of the hearings or testimony, follow the links to the bills and you can listen at any time. Also, if you wish to supply written testimony, here’s a link to the Senate  page and to the Representatives’ page. Committee members are listed here.

House News:

The last meeting of the House Education committee was February 14th. There will be a meeting scheduled on March 11th. So why the delay? There are plenty of bills and things to do. It was rumored that there was a disagreement between the co-chairs (Reps. Ruffridge and Allard). Whatever the reason, they will begin work again this week.  

House Education will hear testimony on the HB 71 School District Online Checkbook bill, and the  HB 280 School Funding: Local Contribution, on Monday March 11; HB 274 Screening/Reading Intervention K-3  on Wednesday;  and HB 183 Designate Sex for School-Sponsored Sports on Friday. All meetings are at 8:00 am in Davis 106 or teleconferenced.

The Judiciary committee will be discussing HB 358 Prohibit AI-Altered Representations on Wednesday with  public testimony on Friday, March 15. Both meetings are  at 1:00 PM in Gruenberg room 120 or teleconferenced.

For a follow-up on Artificial Intelligence, you can also check out some of the webinars from LWV-Maine (and co-sponsored by LWV-AK) on artificial intelligence (AI).  Listen at Digital Threats to Democracy at https://www.lwvme.org/digitaldemocracy.  Last months’ webinar was hosted by Shari George, Fairbanks and Alaska LWV.

Senate News:

While not a LWV-AK priority, it is interesting to note (particularly this week), that the Senate Community and Regional Affairs committee is hearing SB 184 Eliminate Daylight Savings Time on Tuesday, March 12 at 1:30 pm in Beltz 105 or teleconferenced.

SB 17 Campaign Contributions sponsored by Sen. Kawasaki was heard in Senate Judiciary on Monday, March 11 at 1:30 pm. A Committee Substitute ( SB 17B) was posted just before the start of the meeting, so no questions were able to be answered. However, the purpose of the revisions were to make the bill closer in language to the current campaign finance ballot initiative petition https://www.akleg.gov/basis/get_documents.asp?session=33&docid=31193. It particularly makes the limit apply per campaign rather than by year (as  was the wording in the previous version of SB17.) The substitute was accepted and the meeting adjourned shortly after.

What to Know:  Legislation Tracking


House Bill 129 – “Voter Registration”, Sponsored by by the House Judiciary Committee chaired by Rep. Vance (R-Homer) has passed the House and was heard in the Senate State Affairs committee on March 5th.  Also on March 5th, Director of Elections Carol Beecher was on hand to answer questions and Rep. Vance introduced the bill to the Senate Committee. 

There were a number of questions from the committee members which were not fully answered. Sen. Kawasaki said he’d follow up with written requests for more information from the Division of Elections. There wasn’t much time for testimony although Alex Koplin (LWV-AK) spoke as well as Tom Stewart from Secure Democracy USA, and Michael Garvey, ACLU Alaska. All spoke about the concerns of decreasing access to voting by shortening the time to inactivate voters. The bill was held in committee pending another hearing to be scheduled. If you have time, it is worth listening to this committee meeting, the questions and the testimony.

House Bill 4 – “Repeal Ranked Choice Voting”, no further action to date.

Gun Safety

SB 173  An Act Authorizing Handguns for School Employees/Volunteers, was introduced in January by Senator Hughes and co-sponsored by Senators Shower and Myers.  The bill was first titled “Safe Schools Act.”  It seeks to require school districts to train qualified school personnel and/or volunteers to carry a concealed handgun in the event of a school shooting and to pay for the training.  The Bill was first heard January 24 in Senate Labor and Commerce where it ran out of time for public testimony.

It was heard again March 1st and there was time for public testimony.  Senator Hughes presented and indicated there were approximately 300 letters and emails written in favor but that hadn’t been uploaded to BASIS yet.  (And still have not been uploaded as of March 11th.) Senator Gray-Jackson inquired as to why many signatures on the petition were from out-of-state.  About 30 plus people testified with about an even split of opposing and for. Over 100 written testimonies are currently attached, and, at this date, the majority of those were opposed.  In the committee hearing an amendment was passed to require the state, not school districts, to pay for the cost of training. The Bill was passed out of the Labor and Commerce committee (with Sen. Bjorkman voting “Do Pass” and Sen. Gray-Jackson and Sen. Dunbar both voting “No Recommendation”). It has been referred to Senate Judiciary.  It is not listed on the agenda this week.

Most people opposing stated they preferred gun safety legislation and cited HB 164, Alaska Child Access Prevention and Secure Storage of Firearms act and HB 162/SB 229, Gun Violence Protective Orders commonly known as “red flag laws.”   None of those other bills have seen traction.  Both House Bills were read and referred to House Judicial last session. SB 229 was introduced in February when it was referred to Senate State Affairs.  The LWV of Alaska supported the 2022 House Bill version (HB 203) of HB 164.

Legislative Calendar and Events 

  • April 14, 2024  – 90th day of the session (By law (AS 24.05.150))
  • May 15, 2024  – 121st day of the session (Per the Alaska Constitution)

Wrap Up/Links

How are we doing?

The League always needs volunteers!  Writing letters, talking to your legislators, and helping out by giving us your feedback – it doesn’t have to be a total commitment.  

We would LOVE to hear from you.  Please encourage  others to take action by sharing this Legislative Newsletter, Action Alerts, and Calendar Events.  Contact us at alaskalwv@alaskalwv.org, and/or work to get the word out with your local leagues. 

Expanding the League’s impact helps us to Empower Voters and Defend Democracy as a community!  We’ll keep these links accessible here for you.

You can see your LWV Alaska Board members and Officers and their contact information on the AlaskaLWV.org/Board/ site.

League of Women Voters of Alaska
PO Box 101345
Anchorage, AK 99510-1345

Email us at alaskalwv@alaskalwv.org
Website:  www.alaskalwv.org 


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