Alaska Code of Military Justice

The Alaska Code of Military Justice being signed into law by Gov. Walker

The Alaska Code of Military Justice being signed into law by Gov. Walker

This year the accomplishment of which I am most proud is passing the Alaska Code of Military Justice (ACMJ).  The ACMJ gives the Alaska National Guard the tools needed to implement immediate discipline and swift justice for everything from low level misconduct to criminal charges. I firmly believe that with the ACMJ in place that the Alaska National Guard will have the tools necessary to deal with misconduct. The ACMJ was a bill sponsored by the House Judiciary Committee, of which I am chair.

Opioid Overdose Prevention Drugs

Gov. Walker signs SB 23 into law.

Gov. Walker signs SB 23 into law.

I championed and co-sponsored legislation to make Narcan, a drug which can reverse opioid drug overdoses, available without a prescription.  Narcan is now available without a prescription to anyone who asks for it.  I believe this life saving drug will spare many families the great pain of losing a loved one.  If you have a family member or friend who suffers from opioid addiction be sure to get Narcan.  It really does save lives.

Insurance Coverage for Telemedicine

Alaska is one of the most geographically diverse states with picturesque mountains, lakes and wildlife.  It is no wonder many Alaskans choose to live in environments where they can be closer to these unique aspects of Alaska.  Telemedicine has long been nationally recognized as a meaningful strategy to provide medical and counseling consults.  I co-sponsored this bill to help ensure all Alaskans have proper access to health care services at affordable costs.

Elimination of Civil Asset Forfeiture

This bill, which was rolled into the Omnibus Crime Bill, eliminated civil asset forfeiture in criminal cases without a conviction. Alaskans now need not fear that they will lose their assets i.e. homes, cars, airplanes to the State of Alaska without due process.  I co-sponsored this bill and worked diligently to eliminate Civil Asset Forfeiture.

Sex Abuse and Dating Violence Prevention Education

Alaska unfortunately leads the nation for instances of sexual abuse. In order to better protect young Alaskans I co-sponsored this legislation which requires age appropriate education for children focusing on recognizing inappropriate behavior and informing a trusted adult.

Insurance for Anti-Cancer Medication

Many Alaskans are battling or have battled cancer. Oral medication is sometimes prescribed, rather than chemotherapy, but not all insurance policies covered these medications.  I co-sponsored this bill requiring insurers to cover the costs associated with these lifesaving medications.  Cancer survivors have fought hard enough – they shouldn’t have to fight their insurance companies.

Foster Care and Adoption Reforms

A large number of Alaskan children have landed in the foster care program.  It is unfortunate whenever children are removed from their homes. However, once it has been deemed necessary, it is important that those children receive the best care possible.  I co-sponsored this bill which aims to reduce the wait period for foster kids to obtain permanent homes, extends the resources of the foster care system to age 21, enhances educational opportunities and increases stability in a child’s life.

Motor Vehicle Arson

This bill was sponsored by the House Judiciary Committee, of which I am the chair.  We sponsored this bill in honor of the late Max Gruenberg, who had worked on this legislation prior to his passing.  This legislation, which was rolled into the Omnibus Crime Bill, corrects a legal loophole by reclassifying vehicle arson on private property from criminal mischief to arson. This change thus enables Alaska firefighters and law enforcement to better track serial arsonists.

No Criminal Records for Dismissed Cases

Criminal records are serious.  Many prospective employers as well as the general public look at criminal history to make decisions.  I co-sponsored this bill which prohibits the courts from publishing information about charges that were dismissed.  If the criminal prosecutors saw no reason to pursue charges or a jury found a person not guilty then that person will no longer have their records on Court View.

Electronic Monitoring Credits

If a nonviolent offender is awaiting trial in an electronic monitoring program and commits no crimes or violations of conditions, then the time spent on the electronic monitor can be counted toward time served. This reduces costs to the state as jail time is expensive and lessons the impact on Alaskan families.  I co-sponsored this bill.

Disability ID

Disabilities are often invisible.  When individuals with non-apparent disabilities interact with law enforcement they can say or do things which may result in serious misunderstanding or even tragedy.  I co-sponsored this bill which implements a voluntary identification system which allows individuals to self-identify for certain disabilities.  Once identified the DMV places a discreet marker on the driver’s license or ID of the individual with a disability.

Probation and Parole

People released from prison who re-establish a life with ties to the community are less likely to re-offend.  This bill requires that probation check-ins be flexible and take into account a parolees work schedule, so as to allow the parolee every opportunity to meaningfully maintain a job.  I co-sponsored this legislation.

Restitution for Lost Income

Alaskans lost $23 million due to property crimes in 2013.  This legislation, which I co-sponsored, makes victim restitution repayment a priority over State of Alaska fines.  Further this legislation recognizes loss of income, which is the businesses’ or individuals’ loss as a result of not having merchandise available for sale or use.

Allowing the use of Proxies in Adoption Proceedings

I supported this bill, which allows the use of a proxy in adoption proceedings. The proxy could be filed by a child’s relative, or a tribe.  The request can be made by telephone, mail, facsimile, electronic mail, or in-person. This bill will provide flexibility and reduce the time Alaskan children spend in the custody of the state.

Health Care Share Ministry Exemptions

The costs of healthcare in Alaska have continued to rise.  Health Care Share Ministries (HCSM) strive to provide participants with optimal health care services while also adding a layer of emotional and spiritual support.  This legislation allows Alaskans to opt-in to a HCSM and exempts them from the requirement to purchase additional insurance. Additionally this bill exempts HCSMs from meeting the same arduous requirements placed on private insurance companies. I co-sponsored this legislation aimed to protect religious freedom and increase Alaskans’ choices for health care.

Vaccines Certification for Pharmacists

Alaska faces extra challenges in providing affordable and effective health care.  This bill aims to help reduce barriers to quality healthcare by permitting trained pharmacists to administer vaccines without a doctor’s supervision.  All Alaskans deserve access to healthcare and this bill, which I co-sponsored, is one more step towards meeting that goal.

Parent-Guardian Child Custody

Many Alaskan families go through periods of uncertainty or unrest in their lives, whether going through a divorce, a sudden death or fighting their way back from addiction.  This bill gives Alaskan families the power to temporarily transfer guardianship of their children to a trusted family member or friend.  This allows more Alaskan children to be safe without putting more children into the care of the Office of Children’s Services.  I co-sponsored this legislation.

Creating Employment First for Alaskans with Disabilities

This bill reorients Alaska’s social services towards the goal of ensuring that people with disabilities have the opportunity to achieve real, meaningful employment. Having a good job means more than being able to pay your bills; it offers the chance to thrive and brings a sense of pride with it. This law focuses public resources towards educating and training Alaskans with disabilities so they can be more self-sufficient, less dependent on public services, achieve professional success, and make real contributions to their communities. I was a co-sponsor of this legislation.

Protecting Consumers and Businesses with Clear Regulations

This bill clearly defines the terms and definitions of Motor Vehicle Service Contracts, ensuring that a transparent regulatory framework is established under the State Division of Insurance. This law guarantees that providers of these contracts must have 100% insurance coverage and allows consumers to review the contract after purchase as well as allowing them to cancel the contract within a certain time period and receive a full refund.  I was the prime sponsor of this legislation.

Safe Surrender for Infants Under 21 Days Old

Babies are a blessing in our lives, and children are the future. However, not everyone sees it this way. This bill, signed into law in 2008, permits parents Safe Haven Safe Babies Logosafely and without legal repercussion to place their infant (less than 21 days and unharmed) with a peace officer, emergency services, or hospital. This bill was supported by the Catholic Conference of Bishops and Planned Parenthood alike. No one wants to see a baby without a parent. But it’s better to have a baby placed in the care of a trusted official or in medical care than hurt or abandoned with the chance of death.  I was the prime sponsor of this legislation.

Jackson’s Law: Permitting Parents of Unborn Victims to Hold Those Responsible Accountable

Prior to the passage of this law, Alaska was one of only 10 states that did not allow parents of an unborn victim to seek accountability or damages as the result of negligence causing the death of the unborn victim.  In 2006 the Alaska Legislature established that the unborn can be victims of murder, manslaughter, and criminally negligent homicide.  Jackson’s Law takes the next logical step and simply gives the parents of the victim a path towards healing.  I was a co-sponsor of this bill and carried it on the House floor.

40-80 Hours of Leave for State Employees Donating Organs

The gift of life is precious, and when it’s at stake, friends and family will rally around to help and do what they can. People who literally give a part of themselves to those who are critically ill should have time to rest up and recuperate. We need to make sure that it’s easier, not harder, to help those who are sick.  I was the prime sponsor of this bill.

Worker Misclassification for Worker’s Compensation

This past session I introduced HB 307 – a bill focusing on worker misclassification in the construction industry.  This bill began a discussion about creating a clear line of distinction between an independent contractor and an employee so as to insure proper worker’s compensation coverage for all Alaskans.  I look forward to continuing this discussion when I reintroduce this bill next session.

Survivors’ benefits for public safety officers killed in the line of duty

I co-sponsored this bill which provides spouses and children of public safety officers who have been killed in the line of duty with secure, stable health coverage within the PERS/TERS health plan. Police officers risk their lives every day to ensure the safety of the public; it is thus only fitting that we provide safety and security for their families after they have sacrificed for our communities. This bill passed the house unanimously but stalled in the Senate.  We will be reintroducing this bill next year.

Fraud Reporting

I co-sponsored HB 347 which allows Alaskans to report fraud against the state and regain a percentage of the funds recovered.  I think incentivizing the engagement of private citizens can help Alaskans and state agencies work together to reduce fraud and waste.  This bill began an interesting discussion which shall continue next session.