February 10, 2020
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
New Legislation- HB 242, HJR 24 and HJR 25
Last Friday, I introduced HB 242, which aims to improve the Alaska Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (AK PDMP) and to help doctors and other medical providers improve prescribing practices for controlled substances.
In 2011, the AK PDMP started collecting information on prescriptions of schedules II, III, IV, and V controlled substances in a centralized database.
If passed, my legislation would strengthen the current AK PDMP and make it more effective for those who utilize it.
I’m acutely aware of the pain that opioid addiction is causing in Anchorage and throughout the state. I am hopeful that this legislation will help to reduce the impact of the opioids in Alaska.
I am also proud to be co-sponsoring two newly introduced resolutions, HJR 24 and HJR 25. HJR 24, which I’m cosponsoring with Rep. Geran Tarr (D, Anchorage, District 19) encourages passage of an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to rebalance the rights of individuals with those of corporations and allow increased responsibility in campaign finance. HJR 25, which I’m co-sponsoring with Rep. Dave Talerico (R, Healy, District 6) voices support for the federal government supporting necessary and overdue maintenance on the Denali Road.
HB 198- LGBTQ Hate Crimes Bill Moves Forward!
I am pleased to share that HB 198 passed out of the House State Affairs Committee last week. This bill will add sexual orientation and gender identity/expression to aggravating factors at the time of sentencing (circumstances that can lead to harsher punishments) in Alaska’s criminal law. Simply put, HB 198 makes targeted violence against members of the LGTBQ community a hate crime.
The bill’s next committee of referral is the House Judiciary Committee and I am hopeful about this legislation’s prospects. I am proud to have Rep. Gary Knopp (R, Kenai, District 30) as co-sponsor on this measure; HB 198 sends a strong bi-partisan message that targeted violence against vulnerable groups or individuals will not be tolerated in our state. All Alaskans deserve to feel safe in their communities no matter their race, sex, religion, gender expression, or sexual orientation. Passage of this law will be a small but significant step toward building the inclusive state we all want to live in.
Investigating Department of Law Expenditures on Litigation
I am deeply concerned about spending by the Department of Law’s Civil Division on what I see as largely discretionary litigation and am alarmed by the department’s frequent use of expensive outside counsel in these cases rather than reliance on internal expertise.
Throughout 2019 and so far in 2020, the state has spent over $800,000 on outside counsel. Attorneys in the private legal firms hired by the state within the last year have had fee structures ranging from $200 to $600 per hour.
The state employs many lawyers to defend state law- we shouldn’t be spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on law firms from the Lower 48 when our own talented legal minds are capable of doing this work at no additional cost to the state.
Essentially, the state is currently spending a great deal of money paying private attorneys to defend controversial policies of the Dunleavy administration in court. While a need for specially qualified attorneys might be justified in dealing with particularly complex areas of law, I feel that use of private law firms in many of these cases is unnecessary. As chair of the Department of Law Budget Subcommittee, I appreciated the chance to ask questions of the department relating to these costs during one of our budget meetings.
Keep in touch!
Representative Andy Josephson
Alaska House of Representatives, District 17
Serving Midtown, University and East Anchorage Neighborhoods
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