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HB 168 goes against American grain

Posted: April 9, 2012 - 12:05am

We live in a country that reveres the democratic process. Checks and balances.  he ability to voice our concerns and advocate for what we believe in. Accessibility to the courts and to our government. Due process. 

Which is why I was disappointed when I learned about House Bill 168 — The Industrial Security: Industrial Operation Bill. At its core, this bill intends to impose an impossible financial barrier between Alaskans and the courts when seeking an injunction on an industrial operation. This financial barrier would come in the form of a “security bond.” 

So what does that even mean? It means that if you or I, or any organization that represents our social, personal health, economic, or ecological values saw an industrial scale operation clearly violating the terms of their permit, and we wanted to call that violation to the attention of the state courts, we would have to come up with the money to cover all lost corporate profits, contractor payments, and employee salaries for the life of the court case. In many cases, this would reach several million dollars. Realistically, who is going to be able to come up with several million dollars to file an injunction on what is a clear violation of a permit?  Nobody, which is exactly the point of this bill.

To put it plainly, HB 168 intends to take our access to the courts from us. A regression of our democratic values. A regression of responsibility.

Representative Eric Feige, R-Chickaloon, originally sponsored the bill in an effort to keep potential litigants with frivolous objections to industrial operations from reaching the courts. Funny thing is, judges already have the discretion to dismiss cases they view as frivolous. In other words, Feige’s bill would do nothing to keep frivolous cases out of our courts. If anything, it would punish cases with merit. Sound cases based on evidence — the cases that deserve to be heard. It would make Alaskan citizens pay for corporate permit violations. How’s that for American freedom?

This bill is bad for Alaskans and needs to die in committee. Contact your senator, or all of them for that matter, and let them know you don’t support unconstitutional legislation.

Kate Jensen

Juneau

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