Legislature(2017 - 2018)

2018-02-02 Senate Journal

Full Journal pdf

2018-02-02                     Senate Journal                      Page 1903
SB 171                                                                                                                        
SENATE BILL NO. 171 BY THE SENATE RULES COMMITTEE                                                                               
BY REQUEST OF THE GOVERNOR, entitled:                                                                                           
          "An Act renaming portions of the Alaska Safe                                                                          
          Children's Act as Bree's Law; relating to the practice                                                                
          of marital and family therapy; relating to persons                                                                    
          required to report child abuse and neglect; relating to                                                               
          training in crisis response; relating to civil immunity                                                               
          for disclosure of substantiated allegations of sexual                                                                 
          abuse of a minor or sexual misconduct against a                                                                       
          school district employee; and providing for an                                                                        
          effective date."                                                                                                      
was read the first time and referred to the Education, Health and Social                                                        
Services and Judiciary Committees.                                                                                              
The following fiscal information was published today:                                                                           
 Fiscal Note No. 1, zero, Department of Commerce, Community                                                                     
  and  Economic Development                                                                                                     
 Fiscal Note No. 2, zero, Department of Health and Social Services                                                              
Governor's transmittal letter dated January 31:                                                                                 

2018-02-02                     Senate Journal                      Page 1904
Dear President Kelly:                                                                                                           
Under the authority of Article III, Section 18, of the Alaska                                                                   
Constitution, I am transmitting a bill relating to prevention of child                                                          
This bill recognizes the need to provide training to all persons required                                                       
to report child abuse and neglect; enhance the training material                                                                
relating to recognizing unhealthy relationships; training school                                                                
districts to respond to disasters; and the need to provide immunity for                                                         
school district employers who provide information on employees that                                                             
have a verified history of sexual or other misconduct against a child.                                                          
Current statute only requires State and school district employees                                                               
receive mandatory reporter training, this bill would require all                                                                
mandatory reporters receive this training. The training is extremely                                                            
valuable as it educates the mandatory reporters on their duties,                                                                
teaching them how to recognize and report child abuse or neglect. The                                                           
training is available through the Department of Health and Social                                                               
Services, and covers the laws relating to child abuse and neglect and                                                           
methods to recognize it. By expanding who is required to receive this                                                           
training, mandatory reporters will be better equipped to identify and                                                           
report suspected cases of child abuse and neglect.                                                                              
The bill would also enhance current requirements in AS 14.30.355 by                                                             
expanding the existing requirement for teachers and parents to receive                                                          
training relating to sexual abuse of children to include ways to identify                                                       
grooming behavior. This is an unhealthy behavior by an adult who                                                                
entices a child into a romantic or physical relationship. Sometimes                                                             
abuse, especially sexual abuse, goes unrecognized in children.                                                                  
Learning how to recognize this behavior can help stop and possibly                                                              
even prevent the abuse of a child.                                                                                              
Additionally, the bill recognizes that schools must be prepared to                                                              
address emergency situations, whether natural or of human cause.                                                                
Current law requires school district employees to be trained in crisis                                                          
response every two years. This bill would return that requirement to                                                            
annually. The annual requirement would assure that all school district                                                          
employees are trained on how to keep our children safe, no matter the                                                           
cause of the crisis.                                                                                                            

2018-02-02                     Senate Journal                      Page 1905
This bill would also provide immunity for school district employers                                                             
who provide information about substantiated allegations of sexual                                                               
misconduct to other school district employers. This limited immunity                                                            
would help prevent persons with a history of sexual abuse or                                                                    
misconduct directed toward a child from moving from one school                                                                  
district to another without the ability to know the person's full history.                                                      
Finally, this bill would rename AS 14.30.356 Bree's Law. The                                                                    
important training provided under this statute recognizes the need to                                                           
equip students and their parents with the tools to identify                                                                     
characteristics of healthy relationships, identify warning signs of                                                             
unhealthy relationships, recognize dangerous behavior, and identify                                                             
community resources available to help young people.                                                                             
The issue of child abuse and neglect is difficult to solve, but it is our                                                       
responsibility to continue to do what we can to protect our children                                                            
and create a Safer Alaska.                                                                                                      
I urge your prompt and favorable action on this measure.                                                                        
Bill Walker