Seeks to Expand Medicaid, Prohibit Discrimination and Allow the Creation of Regional Transit Authorities
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 6, 2015
Juneau – Representative Andy Josephson (D-Anchorage) has pre-filed several pieces of legislation in advance of the start of the 29th Alaska Legislature on January 20.
“We have an opportunity this session to make substantial progress towards protecting the equal rights of many Alaskans,” said Rep. Josephson. “However, progress will only happen if lawmakers put aside their partisan political differences and work together on common sense solutions.”
Rep. Josephson is putting forward a bill that would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression in Alaska. The bill covers financial institutions, real estate transactions and employers. Rep. Josephson is also sponsoring a Constitutional Amendment to legalize gay marriage in Alaska.
“There’s a national movement underway to recognize the rights of LGBT individuals and it’s time for Alaskans to formally endorse that movement and do our part to nudge history forward,” said Rep. Josephson.
Rep. Josephson has also pre-filed legislation to expand Medicaid in Alaska to those who do not exceed 133 percent of the federal poverty line, provided the federal government continues to fund not less than 90 percent of the cost of the expansion.
“Expanding Medicaid has broad bipartisan support across the state and Governor Walker has made it a priority,” said Rep. Josephson. “It is past time for Alaska to take advantage of this opportunity for increased federal funding to help more of our disadvantaged citizens.”
Another of Rep. Josephson’s pre-filed bills would add a death benefit for the widows, widowers, and children of police officers, firefighters, or emergency medical technicians who die as the result of work-related injuries. Specifically, the bill would add health insurance to the list of death benefits.
“When two State Troopers were killed in Tanana this past spring, their wives were insecure relative to continuing healthcare benefits,” said Rep. Josephson. “This legislation simply adds health insurance coverage for one year to the already established death benefits available to the spouses and children of slain emergency responders.”
Rep. Josephson is also sponsoring a bill that would allow municipalities in Alaska to create regional transit authorities to expand the public transportation options in Alaska. The transit authorities would be tax exempt and have the ability to issue bonds. Rep. Josephson has also pre-filed a bill that would increase the penalties for those who kill or injure a pedestrian or bicyclist due to reckless driving. Essentially the bill creates a 2-tiered reckless driving statute in Alaska.
“Reckless driving is commonly a fairly insignificant misdemeanor,” said Rep. Josephson. “Once this legislation is approved and implemented there would be a more aggravated reckless driving penalty that would give prosecutors options when charging someone who has injured or killed a biker or walker.”
The final piece of legislation put forward by Rep. Josephson would ban the sale of cosmetics in Alaska that contain plastic microbeads, which are small plastic cylinders often found in exfoliating scrubs. Microbeads can be harmful to aquatic ecosystems because they are small enough to move through many water treatment systems and be ingested by fish and birds.
“Several states are considering a ban on the sale of cosmetics containing these harmful microbeads,” said Rep. Josephson. “These little bits of plastic have the potential to end up in our waters and there is nothing good that can come from fish and birds eating plastic.”
Rep. Josephson’s pre-filed bills and resolutions will receive their committee assignments after they are read across the House floor shortly after the start of the first session of the 29th Alaska Legislature on January 20.