The Alaska Senate on Wednesday passed a bill sponsored by the committee chaired by Sen. Dennis Egan, D-Juneau.
Senate Bill 122 makes changes to deed covenants and title plants, where property titles are stored.
The bill, one of just a few dozen to pass so far in the 27th Alaska Legislature, was approved 18-2 Wednesday, with just a few concerns among some senators. It was sponsored by the Senate Labor & Commerce Committee.
Another provision, Egan said, would require companies selling title insurance in Alaska have a physical presence in the state.
“Offshore companies, from India and Bangladesh, are actively soliciting business here in Alaska,” he said. “Presumably they would do their work over the Internet.”
Egan said the local office requirement helps anchor the business in Alaska.
He acknowledged that provision came close to violating the U.S. Constitution’s Privileges and Immunities Clause, which bars states from discriminating against citizens of other states. He said there was a risk that a non-Alaskan company might challenge it.
The bill has wide support from title companies in Alaska.
SB 122 also changes an Alaska law allowing a deed to real estate to contain a covenant requiring that a fee be paid to the original seller for any subsequent transfers of title.
Egan’s office said most other states have banned that.
“There appears to be no justification for allowing such practice to continue in Alaska,” according to the bill’s sponsor statement.
Rep. John Coghill, R-North Pole, said he liked what the bill was trying to do but was concerned about the method being used.
He said if he had an idea for a better method he’d have proposed an amendment, but didn’t, so he would vote against it.
“I’m just going to register a big question mark by voting “no” at this point,” he said.
The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration there.
Editors' note: An earlier verison of this story incorrectly said the bill included a change in how long title companies were required to maintain records. The bill passed by the Senate did not address that issue.
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