Lawmakers will return next week to the Alaska State Capitol building, seen here on Monday, Jan. 10, 2022, for the next session of the Alaska State Legislature, but local leaders were cautious about what could be accomplished in an election year. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

Lawmakers will return next week to the Alaska State Capitol building, seen here on Monday, Jan. 10, 2022, for the next session of the Alaska State Legislature, but local leaders were cautious about what could be accomplished in an election year. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

Local lawmakers prefile bills as session looms

COVID-19 health mandates, annexation and alcohol code reform on lawmakers’ agenda

Opposition to vaccine mandates and defense of the State of Israel are among the subjects of bills prefiled by local lawmakers ahead of the upcoming legislative session. A list of bills was released last week with more expected later in the week.

Rep. Ron Gillham, R-Kenai, announced seven prefiled bills, which a release from his office said focus on protecting seniors and property taxpayers, making the way school districts “conduct business” more transparent, “overreaching” medical and vaccine mandates and increasing “personal medical freedom.”

One bill would exempt seniors from municipal property tax. Another would require a two-thirds voter approval of those in an affected area prior to a municipality annexing property.

Three of the seven bills are related to health matters, such as H.B. 237, which would prevent pharmacists from refusing to dispense medications as prescribed by a “legally qualified medical professional” to treat COVID-19. H.B. 238 would prevent mandated vaccines if someone objects “for any reason.” H.B. 242 would prevent entities that receive state funds from “requiring a medical procedure as a condition of employment” if an employee objects “for any reason.”

Two of the prefiled bills are sponsored by Rep. Sarah Vance, R-Homer. H.B. 252 would establish the right of patients receiving emergency medical services to have a “support person” of their choice during treatment. Another — H.B. 239 — is the “Israel Anti-Discrimination Act,” and says that a public agencies “shall include” in service contracts a provision saying that the person with whom the agency is doing business is not engaging in business activity that is intended to “limit business relations with the State of Israel.”

The bill goes on to say that any such contract must also include a statement reading, “This provision is not intended to diminish or infringe on a right protected by the Constitution of the State of Alaska or the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.”

Sen. Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, prefiled a bill extending the termination date of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board from June 30, 2022 to June 30, 2026. It comes as his bill overhauling the state’s alcoholic beverage codes continues to make its way through the legislature.

Rep. Ben Carpenter, R-Nikiski, did not sponsor any of the prefiled bills announced.

A full list of prefiled bills can be found on the Alaska Legislature website at akleg.gov.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

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