Alaska Democratic Senators Sharply Critical of Committee Referrals
JUNEAU – Today Senate President Charlie Huggins removed the Education committee referral from SJR 9, a resolution “proposing amendments to the Constitution of the State of Alaska relating to state aid for education.” Senate Democratic legislators rose to object, concerned a resolution with education in its title should absolutely be an issue examined by the Senate Education committee.
“It’s ludicrous that any bill dealing with funding private religious and secular schools should not be heard by the Education Committee,” said Sen. Berta Gardner (D-Anchorage). “I call on the Senate President to respect the longstanding process of appropriate committee assignments and send this bill back to the Education committee,” she continued.
Rather than being a one-time oversight, Friday’s action is part of a disturbing trend. On Monday, SB 49, an act defining “medically necessary abortion” was not referred to Senate Health and Social Services.
“A bill that in its title uses the phraseology of ‘medically necessary’ not being referred to the Health and Social Services committee is an abrupt departure from the standard operating procedure of this body,” said Senate Democratic Leader Johnny Ellis (D-Anchorage).
SB 32, an act related to the “development and operation of a hydroelectric site” in a State park, introduced on January 22nd, was not referred to Senate Resources.
SB 26, an act that made major changes to legal standards in the permitting process, did not receive a referral to the Judiciary Committee.
“When you do not refer bills to their proper committees it erodes the public’s trust in our process,” stated Senator Wielechowski (D-Anchorage), who rose in objection today over SJR 9.