Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Alaska HB69 Clears House Judiciary Committee, Advances For A Full Vote; Rep. Chris Tuck Becomes First Democratic Co-Sponsor

Update February 25th: HB69 passes the full House by a 31-5 vote; updated post HERE.

On February 20th, 2013, Alaska HB69 cleared an important hurdle when the House Judiciary Committee voted to pass it on to the full House for a floor vote. The bill goes to the Rules Committee for placement on the calendar. The six Republicans on the committee voted in favor, while the lone Democrat, Rep. Max Gruenberg (D-Anchorage), abstained. Gruenberg thinks the bill is unconstitutional, misleading and may be expensive to uphold in court.

The approved version is actually CSHB69, which also prohibits enforcement of new federal gun legislation in Alaska, but which changed the original by not only allowing for the actual arrest of federal officers trying enforcing gun laws, but also providing that they would be charged with a Class C felony instead of a Class B misdemeanor. But media outlets are still referring to the final product as HB69. In any event, the bill would amend AS 44.99.500.

The list of co-sponsors has grown as well. Originally 13 when the bill was first engrossed on January 16th, it has now swelled to 21. In addition to the primary sponsor, Mike Chenault, joining Reps. Charisse Millett, Craig Johnson, Tammie Wilson, Mike Hawker, Kurt Olson, Eric Feige, Peggy Wilson, Steve Thompson, Wes Keller, Lynn Gattis, Bob Lynn, Dan Saddler, and Shelley Hughes are Gabrielle LeDoux, Pete Higgins, Neal Foster, Bill Stolze, Lora Reinbold, Mark Neuman, all Republicans. But the bill also picked up its first Democratic co-sponsor in Rep. Chris Tuck (D-Anchorage). Tuck says Alaska has fair gun laws and wants us to keep them and not have them superseded by the federal government.

Reaction: Dermot Cole has sounded off in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner once agin, and he continues to be skeptical. He wonders why no lawmaker called for the Attorney General to testify as to HB69's constitutionality. Perhaps it's because a legislative attorney has already issued an unfavorable legal opinion on the bill, and the Attorney General might not have anything to add. In a Juneau Empire column, Rich Moniak also questions the constitutionality of the bill, but he's one of those who believes the militia clause in the Second Amendment is a conditional clause rather than merely an explanatory clause. He recognizes no right for Americans to defend against government tyranny.

This is also a good time to remind people of the nationwide Day Of Resistance which will be held on Saturday February 23rd. Alaska rallies will be held in Anchorage, Delta Junction, Juneau, and Wasilla. The five guest speakers confirmed for the Anchorage rally include former Lt. Gov. Loren Leman, Bob Bird, Assemblyman Adam Trombley, Jimmy Crawford Jr. and Kathleen Tonn.

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