Senate leader putting hold on Bree’s Law bill
A North Pole senator is holding up a bill carrying widespread bipartisan support to rename portions of the Alaska Safe Children’s Act after a victim of violence.
It’s named after Bree Moore, who was killed by her boyfriend four years ago.
Last month, the House unanimously approved renaming sections covering education on dating violence prevention. If approved by the Senate, it would be known as Bree’s Law.
But even as the bill has support from 13 out 20 senators, Senate Judiciary Committee Chair John Coghill (R-North Pole) said it would be “unwise” to pass the bill.
“When you name it Bree’s law, you’re taking it into a circumstance where one individual’s life becomes the theme of that whole program, and it doesn’t fit very well,” said Coghill, whose committee currently holds the bill.
“The theme is about a girl who is out of school who is dating a known bad actor who made some very bad choices, unfortunately. It’s true had somebody got to her, that would have been nice to know, but it’s a different issue.”
Bill sponsor Rep. Harriet Drummond (D-Anchorage) said attaching Bree Moore’s name to the education is not only appropriate but key to its success.
“I can’t think of a more important reason to name this particular law after Breanna Moore because she personifies this kind of person that would have been saved if people were paying attention,” she said.
“This curriculum that is associated with Bree’s law is meant to catch the attention of young people, to pay attention to their friends, what’s going on in their friends' worlds and to help save their lives. It’s that simple.”
Coghill stressed it was nothing personal toward the Moores, who have put on a full-court press advocating for the change. He said also understands the passion put forth by Bree’s father, Butch, but said he wasn’t sure HB 214 is the right approach.
“The other thing that I struggle with is there is an individual – the mom and dad of Bree – who want to make it their own individual industry,” he said. “I find that would be very inappropriate in a school setting to give them the kind of the heads up to start an industry based on their daughter’s unfortunate circumstances. My heart goes out to them, but I don’t think this is the proper way to go about it.”
Butch Moore said hopes the growing support inside the Capitol and from advocacy groups will ultimately sway Coghill.
Neither had spoken to one another yet, each said.
“I think we probably need to get Sen. Coghill some information,” Moore said. “He’s probably not aware of the support this has from so many of the organizations and agencies that are on the front lines of domestic violence and sexual assault and prevention.
“Bree's story and the communication of her story, teaching this education is so impactful. It makes a difference for them. They can identify with someone like themselves... and the end result in Bree’s case was that she lost her life. She was so much like they are. She didn’t know what to do and they didn’t know what to do.”
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