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AARP Alaska Advocacy Update

Ken Helander
Ken Helander

Here are the bills AARP Alaska is watching

(Updated February 23, 2015)

House Bill 5 Conservator of Protected Persons
Sponsor(s) Rep. HAWKER, Hughes. The bill would expand the pool of persons eligible to be appointed by the court to serve as a “conservator” of an incapacitated person’s finances to include persons related by marriage or adoption (currently just blood relations are eligible). AARP supports this bill.

Current status: This bill has already passed through committee and is waiting to be brought up on the House floor for a vote. If it passes, it moves to the Senate for approval.

House Bill 8 Powers of Attorney
Sponsor(s) HUGHES, Gruenberg . This bill updates Alaska’s current Power of Attorney Law with new protections against exploitation and conforms the law more closely to those of other states allowing for easier portability. Power of Attorney is an important tool to protect assets of a person who becomes incapacitated by providing a means to name someone the person trusts to manage their finances. AARP supports this bill.

Current status: This bill was read for the first time on January 21, 2015 and was referred to the House Judiciary Committee.

Senate Bill 1 Regulation of Smoking
Sponsor(s) SENATORS MICCICHE, McGuire, Costello, Bishop, Stevens, Meyer . This bill expands what is already common practice in many cities and villages around Alaska by making it illegal to smoke indoors at a place of employment or in public spaces. It does not prohibit smoking, but protects all persons from second hand smoke -- a proven health hazard. AARP supports this bill.

Current status: On 2/11 the Bill was heard in the Senate HSS Committee, where it Chair Stedman set the bill aside and is holding it in committee.

Senate Bill 12 Paid Sick Leave
Sponsor(s) SENATORS WIELECHOWSKI, Ellis. This bill requires businesses with more than 15 employees to provide a modest accrual of paid leave hours for illness of the employee or to assist members of their immediate family. In many cases, workers are forced to choose between their paycheck and their health. Providing paid sick leave actually saves businesses money by decreasing employee turn-over and increasing productivity. AARP supports this bill.

Current status: This bill was read the first time on January 21, 2015 and referred to the Senate Labor and Commerce and Finance Committees.

Cuts to Senior Benefits Program in the Governor's Budget
Governor Bill Walker proposes reducing the cost of the Senior Benefit Program which supplements income of the lowest earning seniors in Alaska. The proposal would reduce by 20% the two top tiers of benefits, affecting approximately 11,000 low-income seniors. While AARP Alaska recognizes the importance of reducing state spending, we don’t support doing so on the backs of those least able to afford it. AARP is vigorously opposing this cut to the Senior Benefit Program.

Current status: Being considered in both legislative Finance Committees.

Medicaid Expansion – Included in the Governor’s budget is the expanded access to Medicaid
Expansion of Medicaid would be financed entirely by Federal funds the first year, gradually becoming a 10% state share by 2020. Medicaid would become available as healthcare coverage to all persons who earn 133% of the Federal Poverty Level or less. Expanded Medicaid would provide access to healthcare for an estimated 40,000 Alaskans who currently are without coverage. AARP supports this important change to Medicaid rules, which also has the potential to actually reduce overall state costs through reform and reorganization.

Current status: Being considered in both legislative Finance Committees.

Family caregiver support and education
AARP also supports slight increases in the budget for family caregiver support and education in the Governor's budget. These increases are included in the budget requests by the Division of Senior and Disability Services.

Current status: Being considered in both legislative Finance Committees

 

Whether its Social Security or Medicare at the national level, or healthcare and housing at the state level, we are working on behalf of our 86,000 members in Alaska. This advocacy update will help keep you informed.

We invite you to give us your feedback. We also welcome volunteers who want to get involved as advocates to help make a difference for Alaska’s 50+ population. Contact Ken Helander, Advocacy Director, AARP Alaska State Office at 907-762-3314; toll free at 866-227-7447 or khelander@aarp.org .

 

 

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