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Legislative digest for Sunday, April 13, 2014

Senate passes 'Erin's Law'

Posted: April 14, 2014 - 12:01am

The Alaska State Senate passed Senate Bill 216 on Friday, better known as “Erin’s Law.”

Sen. Lesil McGuire, R-Anchorage, introduced the legislation to combat Alaska’s high rates of child abuse.

SB216 requires school districts, with the assistance of the Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, to implement age-appropriate training and curricula on sexual abuse and assault awareness and prevention for students, kindergarten through high school.

“Child abuse is a devastating epidemic that affects our most vulnerable Alaskans,” McGuire said. “Most victims suffer in silence with lifelong trauma and stigma. We work hard to educate our children on the dangers of smoking, alcohol, drug abuse, and other threats, but we rarely address the crime of child abuse, a crime that thrives on silence and manipulation.”

During 2013 in Alaska, there were more than 2,000 allegations of child sexual abuse with more than 1800 individual victims, over 40 percent of whom were Alaska Native children.

If enacted, Alaska would be the thirteenth state in the nation to pass Erin’s Law. SB216 now heads to the House for further consideration.

The Alaska state House of Representatives on Friday passed House Democratic Leader Chris Tuck’s bill to allow craft distillers in Alaska to promote their product in much the same way Alaska’s microbreweries and wineries already do.

“This will make it more feasible for distillers to attract customers by hosting tours of their facilities as some wineries and breweries currently do,” said Tuck, D-Anchorage. “These distillers purchase local Alaska agricultural products, hire local Alaskans, and pay significant taxes to the state of Alaska—we should do everything we can to help them prosper and attract more tourism to Alaska. I appreciate my colleagues’ support for this pro-small business legislation.”

The changes will enable local distilleries to attract tourism and take part in the tourism industry, to contribute more to the economy, and to create jobs, according to Tuck. The legislation, HB309, would allow distillers to sell up to one gallon of their product directly to the public for consumption off premises and to sell up to three ounces for consumption on premises. The bill also would allow visitors to sample small portions free of charge while at distilleries.

The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.

Gov. Sean Parnell signed legislation Tuesday to support medical professionals who volunteer their services.

House Bill 269 is sponsored by Rep. Steve Thompson, R-Fairbanks.

“I appreciate Representative Thompson’s work to pass HB269,” Parnell said. “By allowing medical professionals who volunteer their services in the state to be covered under Alaska’s civil immunities law, Alaskans will benefit.”

The legislation amends the Volunteer Health Care Provider Act, which offers state-licensed health care providers who volunteer health care services immunity from civil liability. HB269 extends these same provisions to out-of-state providers who hold courtesy temporary licenses. The bill ensures volunteers from out of state have the same protections as in-state providers.

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