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July 30, 2021

Headlines:

Secret Mormon fascist outed in the Department of Law? -

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Alaska GOP Goes Full Cannibal -

Friday, July 16, 2021

Shenanigans & a Secret Stalker! -

Friday, July 9, 2021

Wasilla Rep. wants marriage defense for ‘rape by fraud’

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED

The legislature finalized House Bill 76 this week that allows Alaska to keep millions of dollars in critical federal covid-related funding. But it didn’t come easy. The House passed their version of the bill back in March, then it went to the Senate, which brought it to the floor with 41 amendments, and only 2 days to spare before the money evaporated. 

Republicans had some doozies. Majority leader Shelley Hughes (R-Palmer) had an amendment which said that “biological girls should play biological girls, and biological boys should play biological boys” in high school sports. Minority Leader Tom Begich (D-Anchorage) pointed out that this had nothing to do with disaster funding, and the amendment was withdrawn.

That didn’t stop David Wilson (R-Wasilla) from proposing an amendment to financially punish schools who decided to teach “critical race theory” – the new trigger of the right. Again – nothing to do with anything in the bill, so he withdrew it. Then Lora Reinbold (R-Eagle River) said we need to explore the use of Vitamin D and hydroxychloroquine (yes really). Perhaps someone should show her todays headline.

And Mike Shower (R-Wasilla) and Reinbold would also like you to know they are SICK of hearing about the disaster. 

And remember last week when Wilson brought up in the Finance Committee that he wanted to add an amendment that none of this money could go to fund abortion, and Sen. Bill Wielechowski (D-Anchorage) brought up the fact that: 1) There was already a provision that covered this and kept it from happening, and 
2) the legislature’s own legal department said that it’s unconstitutional and that if it passes, the state will be sued (like it has many times before) and we’ll have to pay legal fees when we lose (which we’ve done many times before) and that could cost literally millions of dollars (which it has before).

Ever the Constitutional optimist, Wielechowski brought this up again and offered an amendment to remove it so that we wouldn’t have to break the state piggy bank to support the grandstanding habits of Republicans who swear to uphold the Constitution and then don’t.      

[Senator Bill Wielechowski (D-Anchorage)]

Majority Leader Shelley Hughes said that one option is “if a court ruling is wrong, don’t follow it.” This led to a visibly startled Wielechowski reminding everyone of some basics. “We are a nation of laws,” he said and then talked about Marbury v. Madison which determined in 1803 who gets the final say in these matters – the Supreme Court. “We all took an oath to uphold the Constitution. That is the society we live in. These are the rules. If we don’t follow them it leads to anarchy where society breaks down because you have individuals picking and choosing which laws they want to follow. We can disagree, and I respect that people do, but this is a clear-cut decision… It’s not even close.”

And behold the vote record indicating who the real Constitutional defenders are, and who’s like Eh…  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 

The literal check will come due for this one down the road. I’ll keep you posted.

Eventually the amendments came to an end, and the bill finally passed, went back to the House, and was approved in its final form. 

Here’s what it does:

  • Protects $8 million in monthly federal food assistance to COVID-19 impacted Alaskans; 
  • Ensures the state is eligible for future federal aid and reimbursement for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) costs; 
  • Limits the governor’s ability to spend federal funds without legislative approval; 
  • Continues the legal operation of off-site testing and vaccination sites and waivers to care for patients telephonically; and
  • Allows healthcare and mental health providers to ensure the delivery of telehealth services to Alaskans. 

Who wouldn’t love that, right? Well, actually…

The NO votes turned help away, and they’re all up for reelection next year. Remember that. ^^



SPEAKING OF TURNING HELP AWAY

Kind of reminds one of the American Rescue Plan which gives Alaska tremendous financial relief in our time of need and NONE of our 3-member congressional delegation voted to do this. So all the assistance with vaccines, all the stimulus checks that were just sent out, and all the benefits bulleted above happened with literally no thanks to a single Republican.   

Murkowski, Sullivan, and Young were all NO votes – voting to leave Alaskans high and dry with no help. Remember that too. Especially because two of those people are running for reelection next year. Yep, 87-year old Don Young wants two more years


WEIRDEST AMENDMENT EVER

Put all those bizarre Republican amendments from the Disaster Extension aside for a second, because the Weirdest Amendment Ever award goes to … drumroll… Rep. David Eastman (R-Wasilla) for Amendment #1 on House Bill #5 which he proposed in the House State Affairs Committee.

HB5 is Rep. Geran Tarr’s (D-Anchorage) bill which you can read HERE. It seeks to do a number of things including tightening up and clarifying the definition of consent toaddress inducing someone into sex through deception. Before the amendments were considered, Tarr reminded the group of the severity of the crimes they were considering.

And here’s where it gets goofy, so stay with me. Rep. Eastman proposed an amendment to the definition which would expand the “marriage defense” (it can’t be rape because we’re married) to include this “rape by fraud” provision in which the offender (the spouse) misrepresents their physical identity in order to gain consent from the victim (the other spouse).

I’ll give you a minute.

Chair Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins asked Eastman if he could provide an example of a scenario which might justify the exemption of married people from the crime of rape by fraud.   

Eastman offered this. “If the spouse is thinking that their partner is having an affair and as part of catching their partner in the act they switch places so the spouse thinks they are the person they’re having an affair with.” He said the first thing he thought of when reading the amendment was Shakespeare’s 1623 comedy, All’s Well that Ends Well. He then gave a synopsis of the Bard’s famous ‘switcheroo’ play. “The moral of the story is that it all works out in the end, but we just can’t even conceive of all the many situations this could be used against an innocent spouse.”

No, we cannot.

“Maybe it’s just a wife trying to sort things out in a marriage with her husband. If at the end of sorting it out, now she’s got to deal with the criminal charge of rape for having slept with her husband, that’s wrong.” He did not clarify how faking her identity to have non-consensual sex with her husband was “sorting things out.” 

Kreiss-Tomkins, keeping a straight face, asked John Skidmore of the Department of Law if this situation had ever arisen in real life.

Skidmore: “In my 22 years of experience I never encountered such a case… The legal analysis I look at is that he is proposing a spouse has sex with another spouse believing the other spouse is a third person and would not have had sex with their actual spouse… If we can strain hypotheticals, the question that you all would have to answer is why would you be interested in passing a law that protects an individual who can only have sexual relations with another person by tricking them?”

Skidmore went on to try to imagine a “Mission Impossible mask scenario” and said he found it implausible that you could somehow trick the person you are the most intimate with into believing you are another person. And that no matter how much he wishes he could make himself look like Brad Pitt, there’s “no way in hell I could make myself look like Brad Pitt” and that his wife would not be fooled.

I can’t synopsize the entire thing because it went back and forth for almost half an hour with “what if” this, or “suppose” that. If you want to witness it for yourself, Eastman introduces the amendment at 1:20:00 HERE. I recommend a beverage and a snack while you watch.

Unsurprisingly, Eastman was the only member to vote yes. Reps. Claman, Story, Kreiss-Tomkins, Kaufman, Tarr and Vance all voted no. And the amendment died.

All’s Well That Ends Well, you might say.


WHAT’S WRONG WITH SB39

Well, it’s been a week now, and we’ve sorted through the tangle of Sen. Mike Shower’s (R-Wasilla) voter suppression bill, and learned how it’s still awful, despite a couple improvements.     

The bill has moved forward to the Senate Judiciary Committe (formerly chaired by Lora Reinbold, now chaired by Roger Holland), and scheduled for public testimony on Saturday, May 8. So, mark your calendar and take a few minutes from your weekend to make a call for voting rights.

All you will have to do is call: 

In Juneau – 907-586-9085 
In Anchorage – 907-563-9085 
Anywhere else in the state – 844-586-9085

Say you’re there to testify on Senate Bill 39, and when your time comes say who you are, where you’re from, and speak your piece (you can be brief).

Or you can send an email to the Senate Judiciary committee with your thoughts at Senate.Judiciary@akleg.gov. It doesn’t take many emails to get their attention. Always use your own words, but here are some of the things we don’t like about it.

1) It creates new election crimes, including crimes around helping elderly, sick, or disabled people to turn in ballots. How does threatening people with JAIL for helping others create a welcoming environment to exercise your right to vote? Come to think of it, wasn’t there a time in the not so distant past in this country when law enforcement officers stood outside polling places in Black neighborhoods? Is this somewhere we really want to go again?

2) It shortens the time to request absentee ballots AND the time to receive them. How does making it harder to vote support democracy. The idea is to allow as many people to legally vote as possible. People love voting by mail, but this is Alaska and sometimes we need a little extra mail time – both ways – especially in rural areas. Closing down an increasingly popular way to vote doesn’t make a better election, it just makes a smaller one.

3) Ballots don’t get counted if a voter could use “digital multi-factor authentication,” but didn’t. Digital multi-factor authentication is like when an entity sends a code to your cell phone and you have to enter that code into a form. So it not only creates a hurdle, but technical difficulties would literally stop you from voting. The internet was down in a large swath of Southeast (including the capital) for the whole day yesterday because of a broken undersea fiber optic cable, FYI. Again, it’s Alaska and stuff happens. “Digital multi-factor authentication” is a solution for a non-existent problem, and puts legitimate votes in peril.

I’m not saying it was sharks, but… I’m not saying it COULDN’T have been sharks.

4) It uses “blockchain voting.” What the heck is “block chain voting” you ask? Exactly. This is a new and largely unproven method of tracking votes, and here’s the kicker. It will reveal people’s votes if the voter ID list can be matched with names, since the blockchain is public.  

5) A hunting or fishing license will no longer be an acceptable ID to vote in Alaska. In ALASKA. This writer may or may not have used a fishing license as acceptable proof of ID in a bar at some point. That includes for rural residents who may not have other forms of ID, and a permanent license that a service-disabled veteran can get. Mike Shower just stood on the floor of the Senate TODAY saying that any little thing we can do to make vets’ lives easier should be done. Except his own bill I guess…


REINBOLD IN THE NATIONAL NEWS

Alaska Republican legislators’ idiocy once again makes the national news. Last time it was Rep. Ben Carpenter saying that getting covid tested was like wearing a yellow star and Hitler was just “misunderstood.” 

Now it’s the fact that Lora Reinbold has been banned from Alaska Airlines for her continual belligerence, intimidation, and defiance of masking rules. Let it be said that the Republican Senate Majority could take a page from Alaska Airlines’ playbook because they dealt with Reinbold better than her own caucus. 

Ironically, Reinbold (having no other commercial airline options) had to take… THE FERRY. Yes, the ferry that she’s been voting to defund for years. Suddenly she has “an appreciation” for it. Add it to the long line of Republicans who have to have it happen to THEM before they care.


MORE BILLS TO WATCH!

Sen. Elvi Gray-Jackson (D-Anchorage) has proposed a slate of six bills that address policing in Alaska. She’s met with top law enforcement people, and crafted some thoughtful legislation. Keep you eye on these bills, and we’ll let you know when you’ll have a chance to offer public comment.




LESS THAN TWO WEEKS LEFT!

You’ve got less than two weeks if you are in the Anchorage Municipality to get your mayoral ballot back in the mail or deposit it in a drop box. We’ve been giving you lots of reasons to vote for Forrest Dunbar and lots of reasons NOT to vote for Dave Bronson, but here’s another that just surfaced today on TikTok​, after a recent debate.

Yes. He said, “IF THERE WAS A PANDEMIC.”  I’m starting to wonder if this guy should even be flying planes, never mind being the actual mayor of Alaska’s biggest city. So get those ballots in the mail NOW because the small but determined group of Bronson fans are ALL getting out there to vote. Don’t let the minority rule the city for the next three years. Bug your friends, go to the post office and watch them stamp your ballot, put it in a drop box. but DO IT. Questions?  Call the voter hotline at 907-243-VOTE.

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