The Capitol Report – April 14, 2016
By Chris Christensen, Associate Vice President for State Relations
April 14 marks the 87th day of the legislative session. Theoretically we have three days left, but we will likely be here past Sunday. This is an update on the status of SB 174, allowing weapons on campus.
The House Judiciary Committee had hearings on SB 174 on Tuesday and Wednesday, and it passed the bill out without any additional amendments. In its current form, the bill allows the university to create restricted access areas limiting weapons during adjudication of staff or student disciplinary issues, and limiting weapons in areas providing services to victims and investigating sexual assault, harassment, or domestic violence. However, weapons are allowed in dormitories and dedicated K-12 areas, persons do not need a permit to carry concealed, and the university cannot restrict weapons possession by persons whose behavior demonstrates a risk of harm to self or others (such as students who have talked about suicide). The committee also zeroed out the university’s fiscal note (this is the fiscal impact statement for bills that agencies are required to provide to legislative committees); this reflected the desire of some to keep the bill out of the House Finance Committee, which is required to hear bills with positive or negative fiscal notes, but not bills with zero fiscal notes.
Notwithstanding the zero fiscal note, the bill is currently in the House Finance Committee. That committee has not yet scheduled a hearing. The committee has two co-chairs; the co-chair who is in charge of bills, and who will make decisions about hearing SB 174 and amendments that are offered, is Representative Steve Thompson of Fairbanks. Representative Thompson is a good friend of the university and has always listened to our concerns. He is also under a good deal of pressure from his colleagues in the House majority caucus, most of whom want this bill to pass the House and become law.
*Because we are in the final days and bills get scheduled for hearings with little notice, and because a House Finance Committee hearing on this bill may be held over the weekend, now is the time to contact House Finance members to express your views. If you are from Fairbanks, you should particularly let Representative Thompson know how you feel about the issue. He will want to hear from you. Tomorrow could be too late.*
Pending a hearing, you can send written testimony to the House Finance Committee at this address: firstname.lastname@example.org. If you prefer to contact members of the committee individually, you can find email addresses and phone numbers at the following links:
Representative Steve Thompson, Co-Chair, (R) Fairbanks
Representative Mark Neuman, Co-Chair, (R) Big Lake
Representative Dan Saddler, Vice-Chair, (R) Eagle River
Representative Bryce Edgmon, (D) Dillingham
Representative Lynn Gattis, (R) Wasilla
Representative Cathy Munoz, (R) Juneau
Representative Lance Pruitt, (R) Anchorage
Representative Tammie Wilson, (R) North Pole
Representative Les Gara, (D) Anchorage (minority member)
Representative David Guttenberg, (D) Fairbanks (minority member)
Representative Scott Kawasaki, (D) Fairbanks (minority member)
The Board of Regents opposes SB 174 in its current form. However, the bill has strong support in the legislature, as demonstrated by the 13-5 vote in the Senate, and its quick passage through the House Education and House Judiciary Committees. You will find the Board’s resolution opposing the bill in its current form, and its requested amendments, here: http://www.alaska.edu/files/state/2016-03-25-Regarding-Senate-Bill-174.pdf
You will find a legal analysis of the current version of the bill here: http://www.alaska.edu/files/state/2016.04.11-SB-174-memo-to-House-Judiciary-signed.pdf
Additional information about the bill can be found at the university’s State Relations website. The legislature’s website also has information about the bill: http://www.akleg.gov/basis/Bill/Detail/29?Root=SB%20174
If you spend time drafting written testimony or writing an email, you should also copy the House member who represents your district. If you don’t know who that is, you can go to this webpage and enter your home address in the box at the bottom right of the page: http://akleg.gov/index.php
The Capitol Report, written by Chris Christensen, UA Associate Vice President for State Relations, is designed to keep the University of Alaska community informed about the current legislative session, particularly its impact on the university budget. Subscribe to the SupportUA mailing list to receive upcoming reports and view the archive at alaska.edu/state/report. Each new issue of The Capitol Report will also run in the following day’s Seawolf Daily.