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Home » Caucus Press » NEWS: Senate Democrats Fight to Protect Alaskans’ Access to Courts

NEWS: Senate Democrats Fight to Protect Alaskans’ Access to Courts

For Immediate Release: April 16th, 2014

Senate Democrats Fight to Protect Alaskans’ Access to Courts

       JUNEAU – Senators Hollis French (D-Anchorage) and Bill Wielechowski (D-Anchorage) offered amendments to House Bill 47 aimed at protecting all Alaskans’ access to the courts, free from having to post a costly bond. 

       “We shouldn’t create financial hurdles for the poor and middle class citizens of this state to access their court system and protect their home and families,” said Senator Bill Wielechowski.  

       Recently former First Lady Bella Hammond, who is 80, and constitutional drafter and former Senator Vic Fischer, 89, acted as public interest litigants in a lawsuit against the Department of Natural Resources.   They joined two Native elders and a group of Native villages seeking to protect the headwaters of the world-class Bristol Bay fishery.  After their lawsuits dismissal by an Alaska court, the state has pursued financial claims against Mr. Fischer and Mrs. Hammond.  

       House Bill 47 would require any Alaskan challenging a permit for an industrial operation to post a bond, before an Alaskan court could temporarily halt the operation, even if the Alaskan can show that the operation is likely to cause irreparable harm.   

       Senators French and Wielechowski offered nine amendments, with one (amendment number 5 on the linked document) adopted into the bill.  

       To view a list of amendments, click here:

       http://alaskasenatedems.com/docs/041614_HB47_Proposed-Amendments.pdf

       “House Bill 47 creates unacceptable hurdles for Alaskans seeking to protect their homes, families, and communities.  Additionally it could substantially reduce Alaskans’ constitutionally guaranteed access to the courts.  It is disappointing to see the bill pass,” stated Senator Hollis French.  

       For more information contact Senator French at (907) 465-3892 or Senator Wielechowski at (907) 465-2435.

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