Legislative Report | Find Your
A very challenging first session of the 28th Alaska Legislature has finally ended. With your support, the ACLU of Alaska lobbied aggressively and partnered strategically with organizations such as the Tanana Chiefs Conference, Planned Parenthood, NEA-Alaska, and the Alaska Native community to achieve significant victories in protecting your constitutional rights and civil liberties. Unfortunately, in January 2014, the 28th Alaska Legislature will start its second session and reconsider all of the bills that we stopped.
We need you to partner with us. Help us prepare for round two of the Legislature by educating yourself on these and other unconstitutional bills. Write, call, or visit your Alaska State Senators and Representatives to make sure that Alaskans' fundamental civil liberties remain intact.
2013 ALASKA LEGISLATURE WRAP-UP
HB 1 Immigrant Drivers' Licenses
HB 1 imposes unreasonable burdens on people who legally work, study, and live here by forcing them to renew their driver's licenses sooner than other Alaskans, which has nothing to do with their ability to drive. It would require the DMV to serve as the immigration police, using state driver's licenses to track the legal status of non-citizens. HB 1 is unconstitutional: Immigration is a federal matter and states do not have the authority to create laws like HB 1.
HB 3 Voter Suppression
HB 3 violates the fundamental and constitutional right to vote. If passed, it would require voters to either show photo I.D. before voting, or produce two forms of other identification, such as a birth certificate and a marriage certificate. There's just one problem: Alaskans who live in rural communities don't have photo IDs because the DMV has decided it's too expensive to provide them. We should not be erect barriers or create unreasonable standards to vote when the head of Alaska's Division of Elections said that they are unnecessary. This bill is a blatant attempt to make it difficult for Alaska Natives and people living in rural areas to vote.
HB 16 Adult Public Assistance Eligibility
HB 16 will require that everyone who applies for public assistance agree to take a drug test, and it will deny benefits to current recipients who refuse. The bill will also require applicants to swear that family members do not and will not abuse alcohol or use illegal drugs.
HJR 1 and SJR 9 Public Dollars for Religious Schools
House Joint Resolution 1 (HJR 1) and Senate Joint Resolution 9 (SJR 9) will amend the Alaska Constitution to allow the State to take your taxpayer dollars and give them directly to private religious and secular schools. This violates the constitutional separation of church and state. It will leave Alaskans exposed to increased discrimination and strip needed funds from our already stressed public schools.
HB 164 Property Tax Exemptions
HB 164 will provide property tax exemptions to the surviving spouse of military service members. The ACLU of Alaska asked the House to recognize and include military families headed by same-sex domestic partners. Unfortunately, our request was ignored. We will continue to fight for service members' equality next session.
SB 49 Reproductive Health Funding
SB 49 seeks to limit women's access to medically necessary abortions. "Medically necessary" would be so narrowly defined that it would violate the Alaska Constitution and limit many women – for instance, those who need an abortion for mental health reasons – from obtaining appropriate care. Bills like this have been litigated over and over again, and the Alaska courts have repeatedly ruled that all women are guaranteed equal access to all of their legal pregnancy options.
SB 56 Adjusting the Grading of Minor Drug Offenses
The ACLU of Alaska happily supported SB 56. This bill will change Alaska laws so that most drug offense possessions would be misdemeanors, provided that the offender did not have a substantial history of drug possession offenses and did not possess more than a small amount of drugs.
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