Update February 20th: HB69 moved out of the Judiciary Committee and to the Rules Committee to be scheduled for a full House vote. Updated post HERE.
On February 8th, 2013, during a hearing in the Alaska House Judiciary Committee on HB69, which would prohibit enforcement of new federal gun legislation in Alaska and define any enforcement attempts by federal workers as a misdemeanor, Alaska State Rep. Mike Chenault (R-Nikiski) decided to introduce a draft of a more muscular version of the bill. Designated CSHB69, the working draft bill would not only allow for the actual arrest of federal officers trying enforcing gun laws, but also provides that they would be charged with a Class C felony instead of a Class B misdemeanor. The list of House Judiciary Committee Meeting documents show the amount of information considered by the committee in considering this legislation. Chenault aide Tom Wright told the committee that many Alaskans recommended that the charge be upgraded to a felony. However, the committee chose not to vote on CSHB69 at that time; it's retained for future consideration. Since this post, Senate Majority Leader John Coghill (R-Fairbanks) reacted, saying that the devil is in the details, and that the issue is probably a hot enough topic where enough people would agree on some statement.
The document package includes an unfavorable three-page legal opinion offered by legislative counsel Kathleen Strasbaugh. She opines that the proposed law could be held unconstitutional in a court challenge primarily because attempting to prevent federal officers from enforcing federal law presents rather clear supremacy clause issues as outlined in Article VI, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution. Strasbaugh's opinion triggered a response by Dermot Cole in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner in which he identified another deficiency; namely, that the zero fiscal note for the law department says that does not include the cost of litigating the enforceability of the bill. Cole says the fiscal note needs to include this cost if lawmakers want to make this more than a feelgood measure for opponents of gun control. In a follow-up column, Cole says that if lawmakers truly believe in the language of the bill and aren't just grandstanding, they need to also specify that the attorney general shall defend anyone accused of violating the federal gun laws that don't apply to Alaskans. Or if they don't want the AG to take on the defense role, the lawmakers can appropriate money to hire defense attorneys.
Obviously, because of the federal supremacy clause, the value of any such bill would primarily be symbolic. There's a good chance that a federal judge would overturn it in the event of a challenge. But the advantage is that it will deliver a tough message to the feds that we have had enough of the endless array of intrusive, invasive, and oppressive behavior of the federal government. I think Rep. Chenault overreached in proposing to upgrade the penalty from a misdemeanor to a felony; this change does not really enhance the bill's symbolic value. But some Alaskans expressed approval in the News-Miner's comments section (after the jump):
rextrailbigfoot posted at 6:08 pm on Fri, Feb 8, 2013:
So a state attorney said the Chenault bill to arrest federal authorities is "largely unconstitutional"? The bill still can pass. It then can [go] to judicial review and they then can make this determination. A state attorney has no business making such a statement and should be fired for doing so. She is out of line.
I hope they add to this bill. I think it should be a felony for federal IRS agents to single out Alaskans for prosecution or enforce tax laws that do not apply equally to everyone.
Kathleen Strasbaugh of the Division of Legal and Research Services is an obvious Democrat shill.
noainc posted at 10:46 pm on Fri, Feb 8, 2013:
So Kathleen Strasbaugh determines if laws enforced by federal authorities are constitutional? She is ignorant of the representative constitutional framework under which the various states of the United States are governed.
It is not only the citizens who are represented at the federal level, but in fact more importantly, the states which are represented. The 50 states are not subdivisions of the United States, as provinces in many other nations are. The United States is a union of 50 sovereign states, each of whom has relinquished the minimum amount of authority to the federal government to govern on a national basis.
The fact that layers of legal infrastructure and regulations have been levied outside of constitutional authority does not cause one to conclude that it will survive the trials and strains over time. It is the duty of the states to challenge the federal government and resist unconstitutional attempts to concentrate power and defraud the various states and citizens of their natural rights.
Violating the rule of law, as increasingly evidenced by the federal government and the current administration in particular, is contrary to the letter and spirit of the constitution and an increasing number of states are taking notice.
MrFlimFlam posted at 11:43 am on Sat, Feb 9, 2013:
It's really a sad the we've lawyers working in the legal department like kathaleen Strasbaugh that stated the U.S.Constiution that says federal laws "shall be the supreme law of the land". Strasbaugh needs to take a refreasher course on the 10th Amendment states rights. This Amendment clearly explains the truth that the Federal government has only certain numbered and limited powers given under the Constitution by We the People and the States.
All Rights and Powers are to be kept by We the People and the States. 10th Amendment "The powers not delgated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respecitivey,or to the people." Beware of our so-called governor and none-elected attorney general and their legal department. If they don't obey our U.S. Constitution than they should be arrested along with the federal agents that violate Alaskas Constitution under State Rights.