Alaska, Featured, Politics

House Bill 13 Would Prohibit Alaska from Enforcing Racial or Religious Registries

By Allison Sayer for Seward City News –

House Bill 13 is a proposed bill that would prevent the use of state resources to enforce any federally-imposed registry based on religion or nationality. The bill would also prevent Alaska from using state resources to create a database of undocumented immigrants. Representative Andy Josephson (D-Juneau) created the bill. Representative Les Gara (D-Anchorage) is the bill’s co-sponsor.

The exact text of the bill states “A state or municipal agency may not use or authorize the use of an asset to implement or aid in the implementation of a requirement of an order of the President of the United States, a federal regulation, or a law enacted by the United States Congress that is applied to create a registry based on race or religion.” Representative Josephson is considering adding the term “or nationality” to the bill’s language.

The proposed legislation is actually an amendment to existing Alaska state law. The existing law prevents state resources from being used to enforce hypothetical Federal legislation that would interfere with either “the right to keep and bear arms,” or “the right to due process.” According to Representative Josephson, this legislation belongs together because all these provisions are  “anti-federal overreach.”

In a Press Release, Representative Josephson stated “The freedom of religion is one of the most important pillars of our democracy, so much so that it’s protected by the Constitution. Registering the followers of one religious faith is unquestionably discriminatory and if I and my colleagues were to allow such a thing to happen in Alaska we would be breaking our oath of office.”

On January 31, I spoke with Representative Josephson, asking for an update on House Bill 13’s status. Representative Josephson maintained his commitment to House Bill 13’s importance to Alaska. “The President has said he would still consider registering Muslims and still intends to deport or extradite [millions of] immigrants,” he said. “I don’t think the state or its local government should be obligated to help.” Representative Josephson added, “We know a lot about our citizens. But, we do not have the resources, nor do we have that set of values, so we’re not going to involve ourselves. My state is going to be preempted from that.”

The Representative added that by passing this bill Alaska would be “marking history,” and taking steps to avoid scenarios such as the Japanese Internment camps that were created by the United States during World War II.

House Bill 13 does not prevent the state from enforcing any and all federal immigration legislation. Representative Josephson did not include that language because there may be times when the state would have a need to enforce federal immigration laws. However, additional language in the bill would prevent Alaska from using state resources to create a database of undocumented immigrants. Such a database could be used by the federal government for mass roundups, arrests, and deportations.

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Will House Bill 13 Pass?

House Bill 13 has been referred to the House State Affairs Committee, where it is currently awaiting a hearing. When asked about the bill’s chances, Representative Josephson stated he was not sure how the bill would be received by the committee. “It should be received unanimously,” he added “It should be odd to say ‘Shame on Andy for sponsoring a bill because I wanted to register Muslims and he won’t let me do that.’ That’s a bizarre position,” but, he acknowledged, “It could happen.” The hearing is expected to occur during the second week of February.

House Bill 13 will likely also be referred to the House Judiciary Committee. Representative Josephson anticipates it could be well received there.

The bill will go to the floor if it passes through these committees, and if the Rules Chairman finds there is some substantial support among house members for the bill. As far as the bill’s chances from there, Representative Josephson believes most of his 22 caucus members would vote for it, but is not yet certain about the rest of the House.

Governor Walker does not typically release his position on bills when they are in this early stage. His position is to let the legislature work things out first. Therefore, the Governor’s office could not comment on what his action would be, assuming the bill does make it through the legislative process. 

The progress of House Bill 13, as well as any other piece of legislation, can be followed on the Alaska State Legislature website.

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