Legislative package seeks to improve and strengthen the Alaska National Guard
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 15, 2014
PRESS CONFERENCE SCHEDULED FOR THURSDAY AT 11AM TO DISCUSS PROPOSED LEGISLATION… TELECONFERENCE AVAILABLE BY CALLING 844-586-9085
ANCHORAGE – Representative Chris Tuck (D-Anchorage) and Senator Bill Wielechowski (D-Anchorage) are filing a package of legislation to improve the Alaska National Guard and address critical veteran’s issues.
A bill updating and improving Alaska’s outdated Code of Military Justice will be introduced by Rep. Tuck and Sen. Wielechowski. Their legislation seeks to update the Code’s court-martial and non-judicial punishment provisions, which have not been substantially changed in over 60-years. A recent non-partisan legislative research report outlined shortcomings in the Alaska Code of Military Justice and found that the leadership of the Alaska National Guard was largely unaware that the Code even existed.
“The Alaska Code of Military Justice is long overdue for an overhaul to update what criminal behavior should be subject to court-martial proceedings. I look forward to working with my colleagues to improve the Guard and make it a safer and more accountable place to work,” said Sen. Wielechowski.
“If the Alaska Code of Military Justice had been updated over the years, and enforced, the recent scandal unveiled within the Alaska National Guard might have been averted,” said Rep. Tuck.
Rep. Tuck and Sen. Wielechowski will be pre-filing legislation to clarify the protocol for reporting sexual assaults in the Alaska National Guard, improve privacy rights for victims, set-up an online reporting procedure, and increase employment protections for victims who are involved in an investigation. The legislation reaffirms that sexual offenses against a member of the Alaska National Guard allegedly committed by another member of the Guard shall be handled by civilian authorities.
“We need to ensure we are protecting our guard members without any additional fear of retaliation from within the Alaska National Guard,” said Rep. Tuck. “The recent scandal in the Alaska National Guard shows the need for a reporting system that does not jeopardize a person’s work environment or their privacy.”
“Alaskans recently elected a new Governor based in part on abuses documented in the Alaska National Guard and these bills will put in place protections that ensure such abuses never happen again,” said Sen. Wielechowski. “As lawmakers, we should honor the commitment of our veterans and National Guard members by working to pass this package of bills during the upcoming legislative session.”
The final piece of legislation pre-filed by Rep. Tuck and Sen. Wielechowski, House Bill 6 and Senate Bill 2, would change the Human Rights Statutes in Alaska to allow private employers to put in place a voluntary veteran hiring preference. The Department of Defense has identified this as a top priority for 2015 and similar legislation has been adopted by other states.
Passage of the package of National Guard and Veterans bills will be a high priority of Rep. Tuck and Sen. Wielechowski and they look forward to working with their colleagues in the House and Senate to ensure the bills receive a fair hearing.
For more information, contact House Minority Caucus Press Secretary Mike Mason at 907-444-0889.