Health and Education
The ability for our families to have access to affordable healthcare and quality education is critical. Below are some of the things that we in the legislature accomplished. If re-elected, I will continue to work toward affordable healthcare, and quality education in the coming years.
Early Funding of Education
Education is so important it is one of the few state obligations enshrined in the Alaska Constitution. This past session we passed an education funding appropriation bill early in the session to prevent school districts from issuing mandatory teacher layoff notices. This bill also early funds education for the next year. I was proud to co-sponsor this legislation.
Disclosure of Health Care costs
Alaska’s health care costs are the highest in the nation. This bill aims to empower consumers to make informed decisions about their health care options by ensuring accessible information on medical pricing. The bill requires health care providers to publish health care price information in public spaces and on their websites. This is the first step toward creating competition within the Alaska health care market. I was a co-sponsor of this bill.
New Drugs for the Terminally Ill
I co-sponsored this bill to allow terminally ill patients who have exhausted other available treatments and do not qualify for clinical trials to gain faster access to safe, but experimental drugs to save their own lives. By providing certain immunities to prescribing physicians, manufacturers and distributors acting in good faith, this bill permits terminal patients, in consultation with their doctors, the freedom to try new treatments as they fight to survive, without the burden of waiting for federal approval.
Sexual and Other Workplace Harassment Policy
I championed updates to the legislature’s sexual and other workplace harassment policy. As House Rules Chair, I instituted mandatory Sexual and Other Workplace Harassment training for all legislators and staff. I worked toward ensuring that everyone has a safe and fair work environment and that our elected officials are held to high ethical standards.
Senior Benefits payments
Our seniors are the backbone on which this great state was built. It is unacceptable for any senior to live in poverty. The Senior Benefits program provides low income seniors with modest supplemental income designed to help ensure that all seniors live in dignity. This bill extended the benefits through to 2024. I was a co-sponsor of this bill.
Supportive Decision Making Agreement
The Supported Decision Making Act is designed to give adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) needed tools to experience lives with as much autonomy, freedom and independence as possible. I co-sponsored this bill which was designed as a mechanism to enable adults with IDD to enter into newly created legal structures called supported decision-making agreements which provide a less restrictive alternative to full guardianship for adults with IDD.
Telecommunications for Disabled Subscribers
I supported this bill that updated state statue to improve technology service for Alaska’s deaf, hard of hearing and speech impaired community by providing more equitable access to cell phones and voice over internet protocols. It is important that all members of our community have access to the tools they need for success.
Termination of Parental Rights for Rapists
This bill clarified that a woman who chooses to raise a child conceived through rape can sever ties with the rapist if she desires and that the rapist does not have any parental rights.
Opioid Overdose Prevention Drugs
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 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 to patients far from unborn centers. I co-sponsored this bill to help ensure all Alaskans have proper access to health care services at affordable costs.
Sex Abuse and Dating Violence Prevention Education
Alaska unfortunately leads the nation in 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 system. It is unfortunate whenever children are removed from their homes. However, when it is 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.
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.
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, and make real contributions to their communities. I was a co-sponsor of this legislation.
Safe Surrender for Infants Under 21 Days Old
Babies are a blessing in our lives. However, not everyone sees it this way. This bill permits parents safely 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 medical care provider 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 child to seek accountability or damages as the result of negligence causing the death of the unborn child. In 2006 the Alaska Legislature established that an unborn child can be victim of murder, manslaughter, and criminally negligent homicide. Jackson’s Law takes the next logical step and simply gives the parents of the child a path towards healing. I was a co-sponsor of this bill and carried it on the House floor.