Shannyn Moore: Legislature failing at vetting bad bills

commentFebruary 16, 2013 

A friend of mine just returned from Juneau. "Shanny, it's a scary ride down there. The wheels are still on the bus, but the brake lines have been cut."

Elections have consequences, and the result of November's vote put us all on the same ride.

There are multiple bills introduced this session, written up by Outside think tanks funded by John Bircher millionaires. So, besides the lack of brakes, the people driving the bus are under the influence of much more intoxicating influences than their constituents.

Now it would seem the bus has decided to go off road and take "short cuts". Oh, what could go wrong? Put on your seat belt. You may need a nausea bag.

I knew bad bills were coming, but I figured if they were vetted in committees, Alaskans paying attention would see they same things I do.

Last week I wrote about the school voucher bill, a plan to change our Constitution to allow public money to go to private schools. There was one saving grace to this ridiculous bill -- the public process. The Education Committee is chaired by Republican Sen. Gary Stevens from Kodiak. Mr. Stevens is a grown up. He likes facts. He listens. He doesn't just shove things through. He's thoughtful.

So, on Friday, while Stevens was absent, Senate President Charlie Huggins stripped the bill from the education committee.

No thought, no vetting, just vote. (I miss you, Lyda Green!)

In similar fashion, a bill introduced by the senator from North Pole has been introduced to redefine the term "medically necessary abortion." Sen. John Coghill's bill, an attempt to punish or shame poor women, will not get a hearing in the Health and Human Services Committee. OK, I may be in the weeds on this one, but it would seem that such a committee is an appropriate place to define a medical term.

The Health and Human Services committee is chaired by Sen. Bert Stedman of Sitka. Mr. Stedman has always struck me as serious with his pocket watch and stern questions. The last thing I ever want to hear him say is "trans-vaginal probe." Looks like any "health" bills won't see the committee that deals with health.

The point of Coghill's bill is to exempt "rape and incest" from "medically necessary abortions" status for the poorest victims in our state. Currently poor women impregnated by rape or incest are covered under Medicaid. Coghill's thinking is if you're raped -- even by a family member -- and get pregnant, that was God's will and we can't pay for that sort of abortion. He's trying to change it to "elective."

Who needs thoughtful questioning when you have the brain trust of North Pole figuring it all out for us?

While discussing the "medically necessary abortion" bill, Coghill asked, "Why wouldn't somebody (promptly report rape or incest)?"

Doctor Coghill, oh, sorry, you're not a doctor.

Mr. Coghill, sir, you are either willfully daft or cruel.

As one Alaskan put it this week, "If Coghill doesn't know why women might not promptly report rape or sexual abuse, maybe he should call the pope."

Sexual abuse, rape and incest are the most under-reported crimes. They are even less reported by men. In Alaska there is no statute of limitation on prosecuting the rape of a minor. There's a good reason for that, a reason that escapes lawmakers whose ignorance hasn't kept their hands off the levers of power.

What world does Coghill live in? Did he not read anything about Papa Pilgrim? About the sexual assault rates in this state? Women who are poor, or girls being abused under their own roofs, don't have resources to escape. Sexual predators are often in respected positions like priests, teachers, scout leaders, and it compounds the confusion and adds to betrayal. The most confident and secure aren't chosen victims. We have villages that don't have any safety officers -- who do they turn to?

Oh, that's right. Choose Respect. If only rapists were swayed by bumper sticker slogans.

Legislation shouldn't be introduced to procure status with your radical believers. It shouldn't be diverted in Juneau to avoid transparency and vetting. Real people, with really painful situations, are made worse with the insensitivity of posturing lawmakers.

The wheels on the bus go 'round and 'round. Wake up, Alaska, we're headed for a cliff with no brakes -- and with drivers under undue influence.


Shannyn Moore can be heard weekdays from 6 to 9 p.m. on KOAN 1020 AM and 95.5 FM radio. Her weekly TV show can be seen Saturdays and Sundays at 3 p.m. statewide on ABC affiliate KYUR Channel 13 Anchorage, KATN Fairbanks and KJUD Juneau.

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