House chambers at the Alaska State Capitol on Jan. 25, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

House chambers at the Alaska State Capitol on Jan. 25, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Local lawmakers get head start on legislative session

Legislators have prefiled bills on criminal justice, education.

When Alaska’s lawmakers start the 2020 legislative session Juneau on Jan. 21, several Kenai Peninsula legislators will have already prefiled bills on key issues including education and criminal justice.

Rep. Sarah Vance, R-Homer, has introduced House Bill 194, titled “An Act relating to consolidation of school districts; and providing for an effective date.”

The bill, if enacted, would consolidate the number of school districts in the state from 54 to 18. Under current Alaska statute, each home rule and first class city in an unorganized borough is a city school district, each organized borough is a borough school district. The areas outside organized boroughs and cities are divided into regional educational attendance areas.

The bill states that school district consolidation for regional educational attendance areas “must be based on common geographic or cultural needs, as determined by the department,” but does not go into further detail about the process by which other districts would be consolidated.

School board members of a school district that is consolidated under this bill would have their seats terminated when a new school board is established, according to the text of the bill.

If enacted, the bill would take effect on July 1, 2020.

Sen. Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, has also introduced a bill related to education. Senate Bill 136, titled “An Act providing for the establishment of public schools through state-tribal compacts,” would allow the Commissioner of Education to enter into compacts with federally recognized tribes in the state and establish state-tribal education compact schools.

The state-tribal education compact schools, according to the language of the bill, would be public schools of the state and would be required to adhere to requirements relating to school district operations.

Employees of a state-tribal education compact school would be state employees, and funding for the schools would be distributed through the state’s public education fund. If enacted, the commissioner of education would be required to establish an application and approval process for state-tribal education compacts no later than one year after the effective date of the act.

Sen. Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, has introduced Senate Bill 137, which would extend the termination date for the state’s Board of Parole until June 30, 2025. The bill would be enacted immediately if adopted.

A second round of prefiled legislation will be released this Friday, Jan. 17. For the complete list, visit akleg.gov.

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