The Alaska Legislature adjourned sine die just after midnight on Monday, April 16th. There were good strides made on important NRA-supported bills during this legislative session. However, political gridlock got in freedom’s way.
On a positive note, House Bill 19, an omnibus special request license plate bill which includes an NRA license plate, was signed into law by Governor Parnell on March 17. The language for the NRA license plate actually originated in Senate Bill 2, sponsored by state Senator Linda Menard (R-SD G) and five other state Senators. The new NRA license plate provides Alaska residents another means to show their support and pride for the NRA and the Second Amendment. Additionally, the funds gained from the NRA plate will establish and maintain a scholastic clay target program and other youth shooting programs.
House Bill 356, sponsored by state Representative Lance Pruitt (R-21) and eight other state Representatives, was a No-Net-Loss hunting protection bill. No-Net-Loss laws create a baseline acreage of state public land that are always open to public hunting, guaranteeing that future generations have the same hunting opportunities that we enjoy today. Although HB 356 was finally granted a hearing in the state House Resources Committee, this committee took no action on the bill. We plan to revisit this issue in 2013. For more information on No-Net-Loss, please see our previous alert.
Lastly, House Bill 80, critical self-defense legislation, passed in the state House at the end of the 2011 legislative session, and was reported by the state Senate Judiciary Committee on March 23, 2012. Due to divisive politics, this session ended with HB 80 languishing in the Senate Finance Committee. Introduced by state Representative Mark Neuman (R-15), HB 80 would provide that a law-abiding person, who is justified in using deadly force in self-defense, has “no duty-to-retreat” from an attack if the person is in any place that that person has a legal right to be.
The Senate has a bipartisan “majority” coalition comprised of six Republicans and ten Democrats. This “majority” organization is a result of the Senate being split with ten Republicans and ten Democrats. In order for HB 80 to get scheduled for a vote on the Senate floor, by “majority” rules, it needed eleven committed votes from the “majority” coalition.
On Friday, April 13, HB 80 had twelve Senate cross-sponsors, a clear majority of the total body, but only eight were confirmed “majority” votes (all six Republicans and two Democrats). It became apparent that we would be unable to convince three more Democrats to sign on in support of HB 80. One additional Democrat did sign on at the eleventh hour, when the bill was essentially dead, so we ended up short two “majority” Democrats. We will redouble our efforts on this important self-defense legislation when the new legislature convenes in 2013.
The citizens of Alaska deserve to have a legislature that will take up the issues that are of importance to them and put public service over partisan politics. Your NRA-ILA thanks you for your diligence during this legislative session and we encourage you to be just as actively involved in the critical upcoming elections. With your help, enough pro-gun legislators can be elected to make this issue a reality next year!