The 2018 legislative session began on Tuesday! Legislators returned to the Capitol to work on a range of important issues, including the state budget. After recent allegations of sexual harassment against freshman Rep. Dean Westlake caused him to resign, reexamining the Legislature’s processes for handling sexual harassment complaints is at the forefront of lawmakers’ minds, and for the first time all legislators will be required to complete training to prevent sexual harassment.
Proactive work: This year we are continuing to challenge legislators to expand access to reproductive and sexual health care by passing House Bill 25, sponsored by Rep. Claman. This bill will require insurance in the state to cover the full range of FDA-approved contraception and voluntary sterilization without cost-sharing. It will also require insurance to cover a full year’s supply of birth control. Consistent use of birth control is the best way to prevent unintended pregnancy and this is an important step to remove unnecessary and burdensome obstacles that block reliable access to contraceptives.
Anti bill to watch for: Rep. Cathy Tilton (R – Wasilla) and Sen. Cathy Giessel (R – Anchorage) introduced HB 266/SB 124 on Jan. 8th. These dangerous bills would limit abortions later in pregnancy, impose politically motivated and medically unnecessary constraints on physicians, and restrict doctors’ ability to exercise their professional expertise about what is best for their patients. Similar abortion restrictions failed during last year’s legislative session, and we will continue fighting to protect women and health care providers’ rights.