Monday, March 5, 2018

Advocacy Update - March 5, 2018

State Advocacy

AARP Alaska brought a team of 25 staff and volunteers to Juneau last week for our annual legislative fly-in.  The group had more than 45 appointments with legislators, many drop-in visits, and a festive "Get to Know AARP" evening reception attended by over 200 people held at the new Andrew P. Kashevaroff State Library and Museum.  The bills below, as well as maintaining level funding for home and community based senior support programs represented our priority legislative issues.

HB 236 - Reauthorization of Senior Benefits Program.  This bill awaits its hearing in the Senate Finance Committee.  AARP Alaska supports re-authorization, and has also requested the Finance Committee consider increasing the fiscal note to restore funding for the $125/month benefit level.  The fly-in team met with members of the Senate Finance Committee and explained our reasoning for the restoration of funding.  Legislators seemed receptive to the ideas presented.  

SB 63 - Statewide Smokefree Workplace.  This bill continues to await a hearing in the House Rules Committee.  Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux, the committee chair, has been a vocal opposition to this bill and continues to hold it up.  It would most surely pass a vote of the full House, as there is overwhelming support across Alaska for smoke-free workplaces....like Anchorage, Juneau, Bethel, and many other communities already have.  Fly-in participants urged House members to bring SB 63 to a floor vote.  Rep. LeDoux continues to object.

HB 336 - Supported Decision Making Agreements.  More easily referred to as SDMA's, this is a cutting edge concept that provides a person-centered alternative to guardianship for vulnerable adults.  It creates a formal legal agreement among the principal (vulnerable adult) and his/her chosen "supporters" who will provide counsel and support in making important decisions.  HB 336, introduced by Rep. Charisse Millett, had its first hearing last Thursday, March 1, in the House Health and Social Services Committee, and was held for further consideration.

Other bills to note that AARP Alaska is considering for support:

Remember that mail-in balloting begins next Tuesday, March 13, for the Anchorage Municipal Election that will decide the Mayor, and several ballot initiatives and propositions.  Ballots must be postmarked by April 3, or can be dropped off at numerous points around Anchorage.  A complete list is found at the elections website.

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