Mayor Ken Koelsch bags groceries for customers during an event at Super Bear in October 2016. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Mayor Ken Koelsch bags groceries for customers during an event at Super Bear in October 2016. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Alaska Legislature opens preseason with 24 bills, four proposed constitutional amendments

Each year, before the start of its session, the Alaska Legislature has what amounts to a one-week preseason. Legislators can file bills before the session, new staff hold meetings and training sessions, and everyone gets ready for the work in the months to come.

On Monday, lawmakers prefiled 24 bills and four resolutions. Each of these measures must be approved by the House and the Senate, then signed by the governor, before becoming law. Each faces a long path of committee hearings, analysis and research. The odds are long, and most bills never become law, but prefiled bills can signal what lawmakers are thinking and where their priorities lie for the coming session.

The budget and Alaska’s $2.7 billion annual deficit are atop the priority list for every returning legislator, but the Alaska Legislature can walk and chew gum at the same time, and these are simple one-sentence summaries of what else might come from the state Capitol this year.

House bills

HB 255 (Rep. Chris Tuck, D-Anchorage) — Someone can be cited if they do plumbing and electrical work without the appropriate certification.

HB 256 (Rep. David Eastman, R-Wasilla) — You can donate your Permanent Fund Dividend to a state agency or local government.

HB 257 (Rep. Tammie Wilson, R-North Pole) — Protective orders, restraining orders and injunctions can’t be published on CourtView if they reveal the identity of the person they’re intended to protect.

HB 258 (Tuck) — Creates the Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing to advocate for deaf Alaskans.

HB 259 (Rep. Louise Stutes, R-Kodiak) — Trucks that carry gravel have to cover their loads or fill their cargo bays to the point where the rocks won’t fly out.

HB 260 (Rep. Dan Saddler, R-Eagle River) — You can carry your hunting or fishing license electronically on your cellphone.

HB 261 (Rep. Steve Thompson, R-Fairbanks) — Extends until 2023 the state’s ability to borrow money for the trans-Alaska gas pipeline.

HB 262 (Rep. Scott Kawasaki, D-Fairbanks) — The state allows military spouses to apply for temporary professional licenses while their spouses are deployed in Alaska. The Department of Commerce now has to report how many of those it is issuing.

HB 263 (Rep. Gary Knopp, R-Anchorage) — Clarifies that a water taxi qualifies as “transportation services” in Alaska’s hunting laws.

HB 264 (Rep. Andy Josephson, D-Anchorage) — You have to pay a fee for every disposable plastic grocery bag you use.

HB 265 (Rep. George Rauscher, R-Sutton) — The state can approve alcohol license transfers between rural roadhouses that don’t operate very much.

HB 266 (Rep. Cathy Tilton, R-Wasilla) — A fetus removed during an abortion has to be treated as a premature baby and granted medical treatment to save its life if possible.

House resolutions

HJR 26 (Rep. Les Gara, D-Anchorage) — Proposes a constitutional amendment redrafting the state’s guidelines for redistricting.

Senate Bills

SB 123 (Rep. John Coghill, R-North Pole) — This bill was prefiled but withdrawn.

SB 124 (Rep. Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage) — A fetus removed during an abortion has to be treated as a premature baby and granted medical treatment to save its life if possible.

SB 125 (Sen. Pete Kelly, R-Fairbanks) — Extends until 2023 the state’s ability to borrow money for the trans-Alaska gas pipeline.

SB 126 (Sen. Anna MacKinnon, R-Eagle River) — Doctors traveling with sports teams to Alaska don’t have to be licensed by the state in order to provide medical services for team members.

SB 127 (Sen. Mia Costello, R-Anchorage) — Repeals almost all of the criminal justice reform bill known as Senate Bill 91.

SB 128 (Giessel) — Diverts one-quarter of the state’s marijuana taxes to a new program devoted to reducing marijuana use in the state.

SB 129 (Giessel) — Insurance companies can’t charge more for emergency care at an out-of-network hospital or clinic. Also, the state director of insurance can’t set the amount the state will pay for a given medical service.

SB 130 (Sen. Kevin Meyer, R-Anchorage) — There has to be a statewide vote before any new sales tax or income tax.

SB 131 (Sen. Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak) — There is a separate budget bill for education, just as there is a separate capital budget bill and a separate mental health budget bill.

SB 132 (Costello) — The Alaska Safe Children’s Act will be known as Bree’s Law from now on.

SB 133 (Sen. Berta Gardner, D-Anchorage) — You have to be 18, an active-duty soldier, or an emancipated minor to get married.

SB 134 (Gardner) — Changes some of the rules for adoptions and guardians ad litem.

Senate Resolutions

SJR 9 (Sen. Bert Stedman, R-Sitka) — Proposes a constitutional amendment to guarantee a Permanent Fund Dividend and allow the Legislature to appropriate a certain amount of money for government expenses from the Permanent Fund.

SJR 10 (Sen. Tom Begich, D-Anchorage) — Proposes a constitutional amendment to guarantee a Permanent Fund Dividend and allow the Legislature to appropriate a certain, larger amount of money than the previous proposal, for government expenses from the Permanent Fund.

SJR 11 (Begich) — Repeals the constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman. (The U.S. Supreme Court already invalidated it, but it’s still on the books.)


• Contact reporter James Brooks at james.k.brooks@juneauempire.com or call 523-2258.


Shoppers carry their groceries out of Super Bear with plastic bags in October 2016. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Shoppers carry their groceries out of Super Bear with plastic bags in October 2016. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

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