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Alaskans to Save Money Under Two Bills Signed Today

SB58 allows insurers to drop abandoned property while SB116 fixes citations glitch

JUNEAU-Today, two bills sponsored by Senator Dennis Egan (D-Juneau) became law. Both bills clean up current laws to ensure Alaskans get the most for their money.

Senate Bill 58 makes it easier for property owners to manage insurance costs. The legislation updates current laws to allow insurers to drop coverage of entirely abandoned property that is no longer being properly maintained, as is done in all other states.

“When someone abandons a home or other property, it greatly increases the risk of damage beyond what was contemplated in the insurance contract, including vandalism, broken water pipes and fire,” said Senator Egan. “Cancelling insurance when the property is abandoned helps to manage insurance costs for all consumers.”

SB58 establishes the most restrictive circumstances in the country to make sure the property is truly abandoned and not, for example, a vacation home, by requiring the insurer to give a 30-day written notice to the property owner and any associated lenders before termination of the policy. In addition, insurance cannot be cancelled when the owner demonstrates the property is being reasonably maintained and monitored.

The second bill, Senate Bill 116 fixes an unintended problem with Alaska law that made law enforcement less efficient and less fair when it comes to minor offenses. For decades, parking tickets have been left under windshield wipers. A 2010 bill inadvertently ended that practice by requiring all citations to be “personally served.”

SB116 lets law enforcement leave citations for minor offenses in a conspicuous place (like under the windshield wiper) or using a method like certified mail with a return receipt. It also lets Alaskans who need to fight a ticket go to court instead of City Hall. The bill passed both the Senate and House unanimously.

“I wrote this bill to put some sense back into how Alaska does parking tickets and other citations,” said Senator Egan. “The 2010 law was aimed at serious citations, but the Legislature missed the fact that simple parking tickets couldn’t go under the windshield wiper anymore.”

“That’s a problem for Alaska cities that need to enforce parking and other rules,” continued Senator Egan. “Taxpayers shouldn’t be burdened with paying enough parking and animal control officers to stake out cars and front yards when the law is broken in minor ways. And now if you need to fight a ticket, you can go see a judge or a magistrate and get a fair hearing.”

Egan thanked the Alaska Court System for acting swiftly to implement SB 116 by adopting court rule changes that will become effective along with the bill.

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