From abortion to zoning: Short summaries of every bill in the 33rd Alaska State Legislature

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The Alaska State Capitol is seen on Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2022, in Juneau, Alaska. (Photo by James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)

Each year, members of the Alaska Legislature introduce hundreds of bills. They’re all listed on the Legislature’s website, alongside a bunch of other information, including who’s sponsored it, and as the bills get heard by legislative committees, more information about the bills gets added.

But from the time bills are first introduced to the time they’re heard in committee, there’s no simple explanation of what a bill actually does.

This isn’t referring to a bill’s implications or side effects, but what the text of the bill, translated from all the legalese, actually would do.

Here’s the Alaska Beacon’s effort to fix that gap. Starting with the first bills prefiled in the 33rd Alaska State Legislature, and continuing until it ends in January 2025, the Beacon is aiming to write brief summaries of each bill, resolution and constitutional amendment as it’s introduced.

This page will be updated regularly with new bills, and it may also be updated with new descriptions as we learn more about a bill.

This is a big job — there were 686 bills introduced in the 32nd Legislature — but right now, the Beacon’s staff thinks it’s worthwhile.

Even though most bills don’t become law, this list should give some insight into legislators’ priorities for the year, and will be a guide to what’s happening in the session.

The first round of prefiled legislation was unveiled Jan. 9. Another round will be published Friday, Jan. 13, and the last round will be entered into the public record on the first day of the session, Jan. 17. Bills will be added to this list incrementally after that.

HOUSE BILLS

(released Jan. 9, 2023)

HB 1 (Rauscher) – Alaska’s new ranked choice voting system and the open primary system would be eliminated, returning the state to the systems used before 2022. Restrictions on “dark money” would remain.

HB 2 (Vance) – The state would not use contractors who refuse to do business with Israel.

HB 3 (McCabe) – Gold and silver coins would be legal currency in Alaska, and local governments would be forbidden from taxing the buying and selling of gold and silver coins.

HB 4 (Vance) – Alaska’s new ranked choice voting system and the open primary system would be eliminated, returning the state to the systems used before 2022. Restrictions on “dark money” would remain.

HB 5 (Rauscher) – The Alaska Legislature would hold sessions in Anchorage instead of Juneau.

HB 6 (Rauscher) – The Department of Education and Early Development would have to create a middle-school and high-school curriculum to teach kids about the dangers of opioid drugs.

HB 7 (Hannan) – Administrative law judges, who hear appeals from people unhappy with agency decisions, would have their procedures modernized and updated for the first time in 18 years.

HB 8 (Carrick) – Bicycles with a backup electric motor would be regulated as bicycles, not mopeds or motorcycles.

HB 9 (Carrick) – A University of Alaska faculty member would be added to the university’s Board of Regents.

HB 10 (Carrick) – The University of Alaska would be required to take steps to reduce the cost of textbooks and course materials.

HB 11 (Josephson) – If an assault takes place when a child is nearby, it would become a more serious crime under state law.

HB 12 (Josephson) – Local governments would be able to regulate trapping.

HB 13 (Josephson) – The state’s human rights commission would be required to cover nonprofits as well as for-profit companies.

HB 14 (Josephson) – A crime committed because of someone’s sexual orientation, gender identity or citizenship would receive a more serious penalty than one committed without that extra factor.

HB 15 (Josephson) – A peer support counseling program would be allowed for police and emergency departments.

HB 16 (Josephson) – The state’s Medicaid program would be required to provide more services to clients.

HB 17 (Carrick) – Insurance companies would be required to cover a year’s worth of contraception at a time.

HB 18 (Stutes) – The state would help create nonprofit regional fishing cooperatives intended to develop new fisheries in the state. These would be funded by fees paid by fishermen in the area.

HB 19 (Stutes) – A boat registered with the Coast Guard and registered as a commercial fishing vessel wouldn’t have to also register with the DMV.

HB 20 (Stutes) – Members of the Board of Fish or the Board of Game wouldn’t be automatically excluded from debating or voting on issues because of conflicts of interest.

HB 21 (Vance) – Local governments and school districts would be able to join the state’s health insurance program.

HB 22 (Josephson) – The state would create a pension program for police and firefighters.

HB 23 (Mina) – October would be Filipino-American History Month.

HB 24 (Rauscher) – Members of the Board of Governors of the Alaska Bar Association would be nominated by the governor and confirmed by the Legislature instead of being elected from among the state’s attorneys.

HB 25 (Story) – Members of the U.S. Public Health Services and the NOAA Corps would stay eligible for the Permanent Fund dividend even if their duties take them away from the state.

HB 26 (Story) – The Alaska Native Language Preservation and Advisory Council would be renamed and expanded.

HB 27 (McKay) – Transgender girls would be forbidden from participating on girls’ school sports teams.

HB 28 (Wright) – Older marijuana conviction records would be removed from Courtview if they involve issues that became legal when the state legalized recreational marijuana in 2014.

HB 29 (McCabe) – Insurance companies wouldn’t be allowed to charge someone differently or refuse coverage because of a customer’s political affiliation.

HB 30 (Ortiz) – Alaska would permanently stay on daylight saving time if Congress were to pass a law to allow it.

HB 31 (Story) – The size of higher education scholarships paid by the state’s high school performance scholarship program would increase, and eligibility for the program would grow.

HB 32 (McKay) – The Legislature would create a working group intended to increase oil and gas production in Alaska, and someone dissatisfied with a state administrative decision on an oil and gas issue can appeal to the Alaska Superior Court.

HB 33 (Josephson) – Oil spills would be punishable by higher fines, and those fines would increase with inflation over time.

SENATE BILLS

(released Jan. 9, 2023)

SB 1 (Shower) – The Alaska Division of Elections would be required to take steps to increase security during elections, allow voters to fix their absentee ballot signature if there’s a problem, create a ballot-tracking system viewable by the public, and create a telephone hotline for Alaskans to report problems.

SB 2 (Shower) – Alaska’s new ranked choice voting system and the open primary system would be eliminated, returning the state to the systems used before 2022. Restrictions on “dark money” would remain.

SB 3 (Hughes) – Alaskans would be able to sign direct health care agreements with medical providers, in which the patient pays a monthly fee in exchange for primary care services, akin to keeping a doctor on retainer.

SB 4 (Shower) – Members of a legislative caucus would be barred from requiring other members to vote together on most issues as a condition of membership in the caucus.

SB 5 (Shower) – The Division of Elections would regularly ask registered Alaska voters living outside the state whether they still want to be registered to vote here, and the division would be required to take additional steps to keep the voter list updated.

SB 6 (Shower) – The Division of Elections would be required to use voting machines approved by the United States Election Assistance Commission that use open-source software.

SB 7 (Shower) – Tampering with ballot packages or election equipment in order to change the result of an election would be election fraud, and disclosing confidential election data before the polls close would be a crime.

SB 8 (Wilson) – New medical facilities would no longer be required to obtain a certificate from the state declaring that there is a need for their services.

SB 9 (Hughes) – The state would have a new “Sunset Commission” intended to determine whether there is a continued public need for a state agency or entity.

SB 10 (Kiehl) – An honorably discharged disabled veteran would be eligible for a free permanent hunting, sportfishing or trapping license, and members of the Alaska National Guard and military reserves would be able to get a free resident trapping license.

SB 11 (Kiehl) – There would be a new pension program for teachers.

SB 12 (Kiehl) – The home telephone numbers of police and prison workers would be kept confidential.

SB 13 (Myers) – The University of Alaska would be required to take steps to reduce the cost of textbooks and course materials.

SB 14 (Kawasaki) – School districts would be able to create incentive programs to encourage employees to retire early in order to cut staff.

SB 15 (Kawasaki) – Personal-use fisheries would be the last to be restricted if the Board of Fish needs to limit fishing in order to reach management goals.

SB 16 (Kawasaki) – Sept. 10 would be Alaska Community Health Aide Appreciation Day.

SB 17 (Kawasaki) – Financial donations to political candidates would be limited again, and the limit would rise with inflation over time.

SB 18 (Kawasaki) – The DMV would be able to issue electronic versions of Alaska driver’s licenses, and police would have to accept an electronic license during a traffic stop. Most fees at the DMV would rise.

SB 19 (Kawasaki) – The Alaska Division of Elections would be required to provide stamped return envelopes for absentee ballots, automatically check voters’ signatures, allow voters to fix their absentee ballot signature if there’s a problem and create a ballot-tracking system viewable by the public, and there would be tougher penalties for election-related crimes.

SB 20 (Kaufman) – The state’s statutory spending cap would be set to an average of 11.5% of the state’s gross domestic product over the preceding five years.

SB 21 (Kaufman) – State agencies would be required to create and publish four-year strategic plans at the start of a governor’s term and at least once every two years after that.

SB 22 (Gray-Jackson) – June 19, Juneteenth, would be a legal/paid state holiday alongside 11 other state holidays.

SB 23 (Gray-Jackson) – The state would create a database to collect and share information about times when a police officer uses force against someone.

SB 24 (Gray-Jackson) – The education curriculum at public schools would be amended to include mental health issues.

SB 25 (Kaufman) – The Legislature’s finance division would be required to review inactive state funds and accounts and recommend which should be repealed.

SB 26 (Kaufman) – There would be a new license plate commemorating police officers killed in the line of duty.

SB 27 (Claman) – Insurance companies would be required to cover a year’s worth of contraception at a time.

SB 28 (Claman) – Employers would be able to seek protective orders against people who have threatened or harmed their employees.

SB 29 (Stevens) – The state school board would create a civics education curriculum, and secondary students would not be able to graduate without passing a course using that curriculum.

SB 30 (Gray-Jackson) – October would be Filipino-American History Month.

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS

(released Jan. 9, 2023)

HJR 1 (Josephson) – The clause of the Alaska Constitution that bans same-sex marriage would be repealed. (This clause has been put on hold since 2014 by federal judges.)

SJR 1 (Wielechowski) – The Alaska Permanent Fund would be restructured to limit withdrawals and provide a guaranteed Permanent Fund dividend each year, with half of an annual withdrawal reserved for dividends and the other half reserved for services.

SJR 2 (Hughes) – The privacy clause of the Alaska Constitution would be reinterpreted to allow the banning of abortion here.

SJR 3 (Myers) – The Alaska Constitution’s spending limit would be tightened.

SJR 4 (Kaufman) – The Alaska Constitution’s spending limit would be tightened.

This post will be updated as more bills and information become available. 

Alaska Beacon

Alaska Beacon is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Alaska Beacon maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Andrew Kitchenman for questions: info@alaskabeacon.com. Follow Alaska Beacon on Facebook and Twitter.

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