The first set of pre-filed bills for the coming legislative season include topics ranging from opposing vaccine passports to enacting an official Hobo Jim Day.
There are 43 bills introduced in the House so far, and 14 in the Senate. There are also five proposed constitutional amendments in the House one in the Senate.
The first release of pre-filed bills was Friday, with the next set to be published on Jan. 14. The Legislature convenes on Jan. 18. Since this is the second year of the current session, any bills not passed this year automatically die.
Many of the proposed bills involve fiscal issues, such as the Permanent Fund dividend, appropriation limits, while others relate to things like Covid mandates, vaccines, privacy, and civil liberties that many Alaskan may have never thought needed to be reinforced.
A sampling of the bills in the first tranche of legislation filed for 2022:
HB 222, by Rep. George Rauscher, Alaska Personal Information Protection Act, relates to personal information privacy, especially as it relates to genetic privacy.
HB225 by Rep. Ron Gillham, would exempt seniors from municipal property tax.
HB226 by Rep. Andy Josephson would increase compensation of specific public officials, officers, and employees not covered by collective bargaining agreements, including increasing the salaries of certain state attorneys.
HB228, by Rep. Tom McKay, prohibits the teaching of Critical Race Theory to children in public schools, in an effort to strengthen nondiscrimination.
HB233, by Rep. David Nelson, ensures the freedom of churches to worship even during a disaster.
HB237, by Rep. Ron Gillham, relates to pharmacists dispensing medication for treatment of Covid-19 and related diseases. Pharmacists could not withhold medications prescribed by doctors for Covid.
HB238, by Rep. Gillham, would require schools to honor the Covid exemptions signed by parents or guardians on behalf of their children. And no business or entity could require an individual to be vaccinated against a specific disease if the individual objects based on religious, medical, or philosophical grounds to the administration of the vaccine.
HB245, by Rep. Andy Josephson, would set new campaign contribution caps. The $500 annual limit on contributions was struck down in court. The new limit would be $1,500 a year, if the election is for governor or lieutenant governor, $1,000 a year, if the election is for the state senate; $700 a year, if the election is for the state house of representatives; and $700 a year, if the election is for a delegate to a constitutional convention, judge seeking retention, or municipal office;
HB251, by Rep. Andy Josephson, changes how the members of the Alaska Permanent Fund Corp.’s Board of Trustees are chosen. One of the members would have to be an expert in socially responsible investing. It changes the term of service of the public members of board from four years to six years. It also has language relating to firing the executive director of the fund.
HB254, by Rep. Geran Tarr, puts limits on police. It requires an officer to attempt to de-escalate a situation and use alternative non-lethal methods of engagement before discharging a firearm; and requires the officer to provide an oral warning before discharging a firearm.
HB258, by Rep. James Kaufman, relates to an appropriation limit and budget responsibilities of the governor.
HB259, by Rep. Ivy Spohnholz, relates to use of income of the Alaska Permanent Fund; the amount of the Permanent Fund dividend; the duties of the commissioner of revenue; and use of proceeds for state aid for school districts, the state boarding school, centralized correspondence study, and transportation of pupils.
HB260, by Rep. Liz Snyder, gives the Legislature more spending power from the Alaska Permanent Fund and the ability to reduce the amount of the Permanent Fund dividend. The Legislature could draw down more from the Earnings Reserve Account and reduce dividends to the people in the event of a declared statewide disaster.
HB261, by Rep. David Eastman, adds a clause to the statutes dealing with coercion; and includes civil rights as a category covered by coercion prohibitions.
SB145, by Sen. Roger Holland, relates to per diem for legislators, with no per diem allowed if the budget is not passed by the 121st day of the session, and prohibiting the current practice of retroactive per diem, which is the current workaround.
SB149, by Sen. Elvi Gray-Jackson, adds to the powers and duties of the State Commission for Human Rights to include prohibition of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.
SB152 by Sen. Mike Shower, would have the legislature convene in Anchorage; and deals the location of legislative sessions; and emergency relocation of functions of state government.
SB154, by Sen. Jesse Kiehl, creates a tax on individual income, and on partners, shareholders in S corporations, trusts, and estates; and has other tax provisions, including taxing of non-residents working in Alaska.
Must Read Alaska will report on these bills and others during the coming legislative season. The Alaska Legislature’s 32nd session, starting Jan. 18, has a 90-day limit by statute, and a 120-day limit by the Alaska Constitution.