First wave of pre-filed bills highlights issues for debate this session
The first round of pre-filed bills was released Monday ahead of the start of the 2017 legislative session. Among the 52 proposed pieces of legislation are bills in both the Alaska House and Senate to restore Permanent Fund Dividend checks to their original amount — $2,052 — before Gov. Bill Walker used his veto power to reduce them to $1,022 last fall.
Sen. Mike Dunleavy filed the PFD legislation in the Senate, as he told reporters in October he would. Incoming Rep. David Eastman authored a companion bill in the House.
Lawmakers in both bodies, as well as Gov. Bill Walker, have indicated that use of dividend money to solve the state’s $3 billion budget shortfall will be a focal point during the legislative session.
But beyond the budget, the list of pre-filed legislation offers a window of insight into other issues that may be addressed in Juneau, ones that have a direct impact on Alaskans’ daily lives.
Rep. Geran Tarr introduced a bill that would allow employees to accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked. According to the legislation, the paid time off could be used when the employee or an immediate family member receives diagnostic or preventative treatment.
The proposed legislation also includes a provision to allow paid time off if the employee or a family member is a victim of a crime of sexual assault, domestic violence or stalking.
Tarr also pre-filed legislation that requires employers to allow nursing mothers unpaid breaks during the work day to breastfeed, and a private, sanitary space near their workplace to do so.
A bill pre-filed by Rep. Matt Claman would require health insurance companies to cover contraceptives in insurance plans for both the group and individual markets, including prescription contraceptives, voluntary sterilization procedures and the medical insertion of devices.
Rep. Charisse Millett pre-filed legislation to criminalize the possession of U-47700, a drug commonly known as Pink. According to the Controlled Substances Advisory Committee, Pink is part of a nationwide epidemic responsible for the death of three people in Alaska. Millett’s bill would put Pink in the same category as heroin as a 1A controlled substance, for which possession is punishable with up to five years in prison.
A second wave of pre-filed bills will be released on Friday, Jan. 13. The legislative session begins in Juneau on Tuesday, Jan. 17.
For a complete list of pre-filed legislation, click here.
Correction: An earlier version of this report gave an incorrect amount for the original sum of each PFD check. This has been corrected.
The post First wave of pre-filed bills highlights issues for debate this session appeared first on KTVA 11.