Alaska Safe Children's Act passes

The bill formerly known as Erin’s Law and Bree’s Law was passed almost unanimously in the Alaska House and Senate, the Legislature’s last action before ending the second special session.

 

The Alaska Safe Children’s Act combines Erin’s Law, mandatory sexual abuse awareness education in K-12 classrooms, and Bree’s Law, mandatory dating violence awareness education in grades 7-12.

The Senate added in a long list of other requirements for school districts unrelated to the original intent of the bill. The body passed the bill unanimously Thursday.

Rep. Cathy Muñoz, R-Juneau, said in an interview before the House took up the legislation that it could be less popular in the other body. Representatives weren’t keen on the extra measures added into the bill, she said.

“We’re being asked to take this on with very short notice,” she said. The Senate made changes to the bill only Wednesday. “I’m concerned with what’s being taken on without hearing from the districts. ... I think once we hear back from the districts on what the financial impact is, some of the new requirements there will need to be some adjustments in the future. ... Some of (the requirements) are probably legitimate and valid but I’m concerned that we haven’t been given adequate time to review these provisions.”

Many representatives rose to speak for or against the bill before the vote.

Rep. Tammie Wilson, R-North Pole, said she would not be able to vote for the bill because it “requires so many things of our school districts. ... I can’t tell you how much it’s going to cost our districts.”

Wilson criticized “the other body” for the additions it made to what she called a perfectly good bill to begin with.

“I’m just going to say it, it’s a piece of crap,” she said.

Rep. Ben Nageak, D-Barrow, gave an emotional floor speech with the opposite message.

“Hit, kick... scared, ashamed,” he said loudly, listing off words he said are too familiar to victims of domestic violence. “This is a start. ... Enough is enough. Stop the violence. ... I urge this body to concur with members of the other body.”

The House passed the legislation, with only Wilson voting against.

• Contact reporter Katie Moritz at 523-2294 or at katherine.moritz@juneauempire.com. Follow her on Twitter @katecmoritz.

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