SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Governor Palin Signs Legislation into Law


July 04, 2007

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin signed 15 bills into law Tuesday, including two bills that recognize those who are serving our country in the military and two that widen the protection of victims of domestic violence.

Bills honoring our military were House Bills 244 and 184.

HB 244, sponsored by the Joint Armed Services Committee, creates an Alaska Decoration of Honor, which may be awarded to an individual who has been killed in action while serving in military combat on or after the date Alaska achieved statehood.

"This is a great way for the State of Alaska to honor those who make the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of the freedoms we enjoy in our nation and our state," Gov. Palin said.

HB 184, sponsored by Rep. Bob Roses, R-Anchorage, brings the Support Our Troops (sponsored by Support Our Troops® Inc) commemorative license plate to Alaska. The plate will be available to all for a $40 fee.

Bills designed to protect victims of domestic violence and raise awareness of domestic violence crimes are House Bills 213 and 215.

HB 213, sponsored by Rep. Andrea Doll, D-Juneau, provides for the imposition of greater sentences, up to the maximum for the offense, for crimes committed on the premises of a domestic violence shelter.

"People who come to domestic violence shelters need to know that they are safe and protected," Governor Palin said. "They need to know that they are not in harm's way when they come to a shelter."

"A person living at a shelter for abuse victims deserves to be as safe and secure as possible," Doll said. "The message we want to get out is simple: If you commit a crime at one of these facilities, you will potentially face the maximum punishment available."

Crimes committed in shelters and safe houses in Alaska are unfortunately occurring in spite of the strict security provided by staff and local law enforcement officials, according to Peggy Brown, Director of the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Assault, who supported this legislation.

"We have had incidents in Juneau and other parts of the state where an individual has come to a shelter to harm a resident," Brown said. "We must do everything we can to make these shelters as safe as they possible. This legislation will help do this."

"This legislation may not stop crimes committed at shelters, but it does do two things," Doll said. "It reminds all of us of the tremendous number of sexual assaults and domestic violence offenses committed in Alaska and it reinforces our commitment to condemn and punish those who would threaten the safety of shelter residents. I am pleased that the Legislature and the Governor support this objective."

HB 215, sponsored by Rep. Anna Fairclough, R-Eagle River, establishes the Task Force to Review the Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. This task force would prepare and present a report to the full Legislature by March 1, 2008 ­ and then will be repealed on April 16, 2008. The task force would bring members of the Legislature and administration together with members of the public to have frank and comprehensive discussions about the council and the issues it addresses.

Palin also signed HB 220 into law . HB 220, sponsored by Rep. Bob Buch, D-Anchorage, outlaws computer-assisted remote hunting, , also known as "internet hunting," in Alaska.

Internet hunting is a practice that allows people to shoot animals from their living rooms by hooking up their computers to a rifle through the internet.

"This is a victory for sportsmen everywhere," Buch said. "This sends a message to virtual hunters to set their sights elsewhere. Alaskan game is off-limits."

The practice got its start in Texas last year when an entrepreneur offered remote control hunting of big game on his 220 acres in the San Antonio area to anyone with a high-speed internet connection. Twenty eight states have since passed laws banning the practice, which the US Humane Society has dubbed "pay per view" slaughter. Seven other states have legislation pending to outlaw it.

A wide of array of organizations joined forces to support HB 220, including the Alaska Outdoor Council, Alaska Professional Hunters Association, Humane Society, NRA and the Alaska Conservation Alliance.

"Killing an animal via cyberspace and robotics is not 'hunting,'" said Joe Klutsch, President of the Alaska Professional Hunters Association. "This activity constitutes nothing more than the mechanical slaughter of an animal over the internet."

In addition to prohibiting people from engaging in cyber hunting in Alaska, HB 220 would also prohibit anyone from providing services or operating facilities in the state to enable these kinds of activities.

"The preemptive nature of HB 220 banning computer-assisted hunting is a significant action for conservation of wildlife and protection of our hunting heritage," said Carl Rosier, retired Commissioner of the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game, and representative for the Alaska Outdoor Council.

"This bill is a preemptive strike against a practice that is insulting to sportsmen everywhere," Buch said. "I want to thank my colleagues in Legislature for helping to ensure that this despicable practice doesn't come to Alaska."

Other bills signed Tuesday by the Governor:

HB 87, sponsored by Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Fairbanks, re-establishes the Citizens' Advisory Commission on Federal Areas. The commission is charged with researching issues and determining the impact of federal statutes, regulations and management decisions on the citizens of Alaska in order to minimize or resolve potential conflicts.

HB 110, sponsored by the House Labor and Commerce Committee, extends the sunset date for the Regulatory Commission of Alaska until June 30, 2011. The bill requires the RCA to annually report on its regulation of oil and gas pipeline facilities, as well as the commission's compliance with performance measures in state law.

HB 132, sponsored by Rep. Carl Gatto, R-Palmer, establishes the first Tuesday in May each year as Alaska Agriculture Day. The bill states that the day may be observed by celebratory events to increase awareness and appreciation of Alaska agriculture.

HB 155, sponsored by the House Labor and Commerce Commission, extends the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board until June 30, 2010.

HB 170, sponsored by the House Labor and Commerce Committee, relates to the accreditation of the Division of Insurance and includes other minor clarifying changes to the insurance code.

HB 171, sponsored by the House Rules Committee, amends state laws relating to reporting requirements, budget submittal deadlines, and other necessary law changes related to the voter-approved 90-day session limit.

HB 186, sponsored by Speaker of the House John Harris, R-Valdez, provides confidentiality to certain reports and records required by the state Department of Fish and Game concerning landings of fish, shellfish or fishery products of fishermen, buyers and processors. In addition, this bill will authorize the limited release of records to the International Pacific Halibut Commission and to law enforcement personnel of the National Marine Fisheries Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

HB 209, sponsored by the House Labor and Commerce Committee, makes changes to the timelines in state law for the Regulatory Commission of Alaska to review certain types of dockets within specific timelines.

HB 228, sponsored by Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Fairbanks, extends for two years the medical rate freeze for workers compensation claims to allow time for recommendations to be developed. The freeze would allow an annual rate increase based on the consumer price index.

SB 105, sponsored by Sen. Lyman Hoffman, D-Bethel, extends the opportunity for certain communities to finance specific capital projects and receive debt reimbursement from the state.

Yesterday, the Governor signed into law HB 22, sponsored by Rep. Bill Stoltze, R-Chugiak/ Mat-Su, which extends the sunset date of the Board of Governors of the Alaska Bar Association until June 30, 2010.



Sources of News:

Office of the Governor

Office of Representative Andrea Doll (D-Juneau)

Office of Rep. Bob Buch (D-Anchorage)


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Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska