Thursday morning began with the Senate Finance Committee moving the committee substitute for the committee substitute for House Bill 44, better known by Erin’s Law, Bree’s Law, and it’s official title: the Alaska Safe Children’s Act.
The fate of the legislation has been in question for the entirety of the 140 days comprising the regular legislative session and subsequent special sessions. Though Governor Bill Walker called for a bill to sign at the outset of the legislature, four separate bills had difficulty advancing through the body. HB44, sponsored by House Majority Leader Charisse Millett (R-Anchorage), finally passed the lower chamber on April 19. However, it was then interred in the Senate Finance Committee, chaired by Senator Mike Dunleavy (R-Wasilla), where it remained when session ended.
When the legislature was unable to pass a funded budget, Walker issued a special session proclamation. He listed three items for legislators to address: The budget, Medicaid Expansion, and Erin’s Law.
Dunleavy then rolled two seperate pieces of legislation into HB44. The first was House Bill 80, sponsored by Rep. Lynn Gattis (R-Wasilla), which sould to repeal the requirement for secondary students to take college and career readiness assessments (SAT, ACT, Workkeys). HB80 passed the House but never received a hearing in it’s first Senate committee of referral.
Also attached as a rider was one of Dunleavy’s legislative proposals, Senate Bill 89. SB 89, by all intents and purposes, was antithetical to the legislative intent behind HB44. As I noted last month, that bill replaced a parental opt out clause written into HB44 with a parental opt in. Under the auspices of SB89, a parent would have to opt their children in to any course pertaining to sexuality or sexually transmitted diseases. The proposal also forbade abortion providers like Planned Parenthood to contract with public schools or provide any literature or course materials.