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Prefiled bills cover everything from birth control to corpses

Posted: Sunday, January 07, 2001

A person who finds a corpse or a body part and fails to report it to police could face prosecution, if a new bill becomes law.

The measure was one of about a dozen bills filed Friday by lawmakers gearing up for the legislative session, which convenes Monday.

Other measures would allow parents to safely abandon their newborns without fear of criminal prosecution, require health care insurers to cover the cost of contraceptives and forbid the state from putting photographs of elected officials on elections mailouts.

Juneau Reps. Bill Hudson and Beth Kerttula also re-introduced two bills from last session, including one by Hudson to craft a long-range plan to fund state government using earnings from the Alaska Permanent Fund. Kerttula's bill would set a cap on the number of students per teacher in public schools.

The bill on corpses was filed by freshman Rep. Gretchen Guess, an Anchorage Democrat. The measure would make it a crime to ignore bodies or body parts if it seems reasonable the person who died was the victim of a crime. Failure to report a body to police in a timely manner would be a misdemeanor under the bill.

Guess filed the measure in response to six recent homicides in Anchorage. She said a man suspected of killing at least one of the women allegedly showed the victim's corpse to two of his friends before police found the body.

The suspect's friends "didn't do anything about it - so that's how this (bill) came about," Guess said. "There was no law in place to hold them accountable for seeing a body that was part of a crime."

Anchorage Democrat Rep. Eric Croft filed a measure to protect parents from prosecution, if they abandon their newborns uninjured to employees of hospitals, fire stations or law enforcement. Parents would not be required to reveal their identity, and the bill applies only to parents who abandon newborns within 72 hours after birth.

Hudson's bill attempts to establish a long-term plan to fund government using some income from the permanent fund. The measure would inflation-proof the fund and continue annual dividends, while allowing a portion of the permanent fund earnings to be used for state services.

The bill also would change the way money available for distribution from the fund is calculated by basing that on the market value of the fund over five years, rather than the net income over five years - an idea supported by the permanent fund corporation's board of trustees.

Hudson proposed a similar bill last session, but it died in committee. Leaders in the majority have said it is highly unlikely Republicans would support any plan this year to tap permanent fund earnings for government, and Hudson said he does not expect his version to pass.

"My hopes are that this bill will be able to at least engender some hearings and begin to take a hard look at the long-term revenue requirements of the state for stability," said Hudson, a Republican. "I have no illusions of this thing passing as it's currently written, but it gives us a good place to start."

Kerttula's bill would set a maximum class size of 18 students per teacher in kindergarten through third grade, 20 students per teacher in fourth through sixth grades, and 25 students per teacher in seventh through 12th grades. The mandate would not apply in years the Legislature does not appropriate enough money to fund it. Kerttula, a Democrat, pushed a nearly identical measure last session but it died in committee.

Kathy Dye can be reached at kdye@juneauempire.com



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