Senator Berta Gardner

April 20, 2014


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Juneau, AK 99801
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D.C. DELEGATION

Senator Mark Begich
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EMAIL: Sen. Mark Begich

Senator Lisa Murkowski
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EMAIL: Sen. Lisa Murkowski

Congressman Don Young
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EMAIL: Rep. Don Young

Day 2....of 3, 2, 1

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

          It’s day 90 of the second session of the 28th Legislature! When we return to Juneau next year, we’ll begin the first session of the 30th Legislature. Our final day of the second session is called at midnight tonight, sine die, or “without day,” meaning “without assigning a day for a further meeting or hearing,” and we’ll adjourn until next January.

Here’s a screen shot of the legislation we passed in the Senate last night.
Senate Calendar 

          You’ll notice we mostly passed Senate bills and resolutions by concurring with the House changes. We adjourned last night’s session at nearly 11:15 last night, putting off many House bills to be dealt with during today’s session. And as I write this, we’ve been waiting more than three hours for the start of the Floor session, suggesting that there is division among the ranks.

          Back to last night:  The statewide immunization program, SB 196, reinstates the statewide vaccine program. The bill passed through both bodies unanimously and I think it’s a commonsense idea that will benefit all Alaskans.

          SB 173 bans synthetic drugs like “spice” from being sold in the state. Many have heard horror stories of what happens when people use these synthetic drugs, and SB 173 simply expands the definition of what synthetic drug is to target the manufacturer practice of simply changing the label to comply with statute. The vote for SB 173 was unanimous.

          SJR 22 is a resolution taking a stand against the data collection practices of the NSA. I was a cosponsor and I think it will take some time to get to the bottom of what’s really happened since the revelations of warrantless data collection. This resolution is a record of the Alaska Legislature’s opposition to the practice, protecting citizen privacy rights.

          The two pieces of legislation by the House we passed were HB210 and HJR 22.

          HB 210 is great legislation about student restraint and seclusion in public schools.  It requires a written plan for use, specialized training for any person who uses it at a school, and requires that parents be notified if their child was physically restrained or secluded from other students.  Restraint and seclusion can be used only when a child is dangerous to himself or herself or puts other people at risk of serious harm.  I was disappointed, however, that my amendment to require private schools also to notify parents if restraint or seclusion had been used on their child was rejected.  I consider this to be a matter of child protection and parental rights.

          Finally HJR 22, calling for a Constitutional Convention passed.  The US Constitution allows states to convene a constitutional convention but there is no way to limit the subjects to addressed.  At such at convention everyone has something to gain and also something to lose.  I prefer the traditional route of Congress passing proposed changes by a 2/3 vote and the states ratifying the changes. I was a no vote.

          All of this legislation is on its way to the Governor for signature or veto. I anticipate passage of all.

          Both House and Senate are working with each other to decide what bills to pass; there’s always a tension between the bodies when working toward ending the session at midnight tonight.  This is, of course, assuming we adjourn on time.  Another scenario is that we do not adjourn before midnight and if that happens the minimum wage and the marijuana initiatives are moved from the August ballot to the November ballot – much to the relief of the oil industry which prefers to not have the initiatives on the same ballot as the Repeal Senate Bill 21 referendum.

          If any of these bills are of interest to you, please feel free to ask me about them, although today will be a bit of a whirlwind as we wrap up.

          I’m Berta and I’m still listening,

          If you have any questions, please feel free to contact my office

signed: Berta

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