Deadline comes for bill restricting sex education

A controversial bill passed by the Alaska Legislature will reach its day of decision today.

House Bill 156, sponsored by Rep. Wes Keller, R-Wasilla and significantly amended by Sen. Mike Dunleavy, R-Wasilla, will reach its veto deadline on July 28. That’s the date by which Gov. Bill Walker must sign or veto the bill. If he does neither, the bill will become law without his signature.

As originally drafted, HB 156 was intended to give school districts a two-year break from a state mandate for standardized testing. The state’s Alaska Measures of Progress exam was a total failure, and Keller said districts need a “breather” while the state comes up with a replacement.

The Alaska Department of Education and Early Development has already requested a federal waiver from the testing requirement, and HB 156 is intended to waive the state requirement as well.

Keller’s original intent remains in the bill, but it was largely pushed aside by an amendment crafted by Dunleavy.

Dunleavy was the author of the controversial Senate Bill 89, which would have prohibited sex education by anyone but a certified teacher employed at the local school hosting the sex ed course. The bill was written to specifically forbid lessons provided by organizations that also provide abortion services and was seen as specifically targeting Planned Parenthood.

SB 89 failed in the House, but Dunleavy amended HB 156 to include a watered-down version of SB 89.

As passed by the Legislature, HB 156 requires only that sex ed instructors be overseen by a local teacher. Instead of prohibiting Planned Parenthood and any similar organizations, the bill requires sex ed materials and instructors be approved by a local school board.

Sen. Berta Gardner, D-Anchorage and the Senate Minority Leader, has been an adamant opponent of HB 156. In a Wednesday newsletter to constituents, she wrote that even though the controversial elements of the bill have been diluted, “they would still restrict much-needed access to resources in a state that can use all the resources available.”

Staff in Gardner’s office and Keller’s office said they have not been informed about any action by the governor. A spokeswoman for Walker said by email that a decision would not be announced before Thursday.

More in News

The Swan Lake Fire can be seen from above on Monday, Aug. 26 on the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska. (Photo courtesy Alaska Wildland Fire Information)
State lifts burn suspension

Residents may now obtain permits for burn barrels as well as for small and large-scale brush fires.

A chart produced by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services shows four risk factors in being infected by COVID-19. (Graph courtesy Alaska Department of Health and Social Services)
17th Alaskan dies of COVID-19

There were 23 new positive cases of COVID-19 announced Tuesday.

Noah and Eddie Land of Grace Acres Farm in Kasilof set out produce Tuesday, July 7, 2020, at the Farmers Fresh Market at Kenai Peninsula Food Bank. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Freshness time 2

DoubleUp program helps seniors, families eat healthy

In this July 20, 2013 file photo, several thousand dipnetters converged onto the mouth of the Kenai River to catch a share of the late run of sockeye salmon headed into the river in Kenai, Alaska. (Peninsula Clarion file photo/Rashah McChesney)
Dipnetters banned from retaining kings

Dipnetting on the Kenai River opens Friday.

The entrance to the Kenai Peninsula Borough building in Soldotna, Alaska, is seen here on June 1, 2020. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)
Application period for borough relief funds begins Monday

Borough residents can apply for these grants July 13 through July 24.

A young volunteer chases three piglets named Mary Hamkins, Petunia and Sir Oinks-a-lot through a race during the pig races at the Kenai Peninsula Fair on Friday, Aug. 16, 2019 at the Kenai Peninsula Fairgrounds in Ninilchik, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)
Kenai Peninsula Fair canceled this year

Cotton candy, carnival rides and racing pigs will have to wait for… Continue reading

COVID-19. (Image CDC)
State reports 30 new cases; hospitalizations reach new high

The cases include 28 residents and two nonresidents.

photos by Megan Pacer / Homer News 
                                A youth rider takes a turn riding a bull calf during the 60th annual Ninilchik Rodeo on Saturday, July 4 at the Kenai Peninsula Fairgrounds in Ninilchik. The rodeo lasted throughout the July Fourth holiday and celebrated a return to the event’s roots.
Riding high in Ninilchik

Ninilchik Rodeo celebrates 60 years with events new and old.

A closed sign is posted at a retail store shuttered due to the new coronavirus, in Soldotna, Alaska, on Wednesday, April 1, 2020. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna to vote on relief funds for businesses, nonprofits

CARES Relief and Recovery Grant funds would be rolled out in two phases.

Most Read