Sex education, paying back the PFD and gender confirmation surgery--lawmakers pre-file bills before session

ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Many lawmakers are heading to Juneau this week for the start of the session on Jan. 15. But already on their plates are several pre-filed bills covering everything from snowmachine registration fees to sex education in schools.

Rep. George Rauscher, R-Sutton, filed a bill about sex education. In part, it says that abstinence should be a highlight and that "erotic behavior" such as homosexuality, gender identity, use of contraception methods and sexual activity out of wedlock, should not be part of the instruction.

Another bill Rauscher filed would prohibit the state from paying for gender confirmation surgery, or related drug therapy for state workers, and others.

Calls to his office for comment were not returned.

Sen. Bill Wielechowski, D- Anchorage, filed three bills, two focus on the PFD.

One would pay back the previous three PFD checks and another proposes enshrining the PFD into the state constitution.

Wielechowski has proposed such a bill for the past five years.

"That bill has gotten more support every year," Wielechowski said. "Last year it got a lot of support and I've talked to other legislators, on both sides of the aisle, who are much more supportive of that. Certainly the people are supportive of that."

Rep. Matt Claman, D- Anchorage, has two bills that are sure to spark debate. One would allow women to have a 12-month prescription for birth control, rather than three months, and the other would amend the Alaska Constitution to limit the length of legislative sessions to 90 days.

"It makes it simpler to get access to contraception, and actually reduces the cost of getting the contraception, because you don't have to keep going back to renew the prescription and making return trips to the pharmacy to pick up this prescription," Claman said. "In particular for women in rural areas and the ones who work in remote areas that 12-month prescription can make a huge difference of having access."

Claman says he's heard from multiple people about their frustrations that it seems lawmakers can't get all their work done in 90 days.

He says that in addition to a flurry of work being done at the last minute, longer sessions prohibit the average person from being able to participate in state government.

"The legislature has routinely ignored that 90-day deadline and the only way to make it really a meaningful deadline is to change the constitution," Claman said. "The way to get it in front of the voters is having both houses put that prop on the ballot for the next election."

The session starts Jan. 15.

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