Legislature(2009 - 2010)BUTROVICH 205
04/15/2009 03:30 PM RESOURCES
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* first hearing in first committee of referral
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= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 14-ALASKAN MALAMUTE AS STATE DOG 4:52:38 PM CHAIR MCGUIRE announced the consideration of HB 14. [CSHB 14(STA) was before the committee.] STEFAN JOHNSON, sixth grade, Academy Charter said the fifth graders want the malamute as the state dog, but he believes the husky is a better choice. He noted that the husky, Balto, ran on the serum run. He concluded that the husky has a longer history, is more familiar, and would reflect Alaska better than the malamute. 4:55:02 PM REPRESENTATIVE BERTA GARDNER, Alaska State Legislature, said HB 14 was brought to her by students in her district. She met with the school community to talk generally about the legislative process. After one girl noted there wasn't a state dog, the class did some research and then asked for her help. She said her first question was why the state dog shouldn't be the husky. The students gave a lot of persuasive reasons and their choice is good. However, this is not about the dog but about the legislative process. "It's been just a wonderful project no matter what the outcome." She expressed the hope that the committee keeps their minds open until they hear all the testimony. She pointed out that everything in the packet was written or elicited by the students. SENATOR HUGGINS asked if the students discussed Alaska dogs, because multiple dogs with a renowned history in this state. 4:57:18 PM REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER said they did have that discussion. On the House floor two amendments were offered. One was to make the sled dog the state dog and the other was to make the husky the state dog. Both amendments were voted down. Although the husky is well known and beloved, she believes the husky and all dogs are honored by having dog mushing as the official state sport. SENATOR HUGGINS mentioned the wolf and said you can make the case that multiple canines have a significant history in the state. He encouraged everyone to maintain the open minded approach that the students have demonstrated. SENATOR WAGONER asked if the famous Balto was supposed to be returned to the state. REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER replied she thinks she saw Balto in the Anchorage museum, but she isn't sure if he was on loan of there permanently. 5:00:04 PM JAMIE RODRIGUEZ, teacher, Polaris K-12 School, introduced herself, fellow teacher, Carol Bartholomew and the five students who would testify. KAI ROBERTS, fourth grade, Polaris K-12 School, related that the Alaskan malamute is the right choice as the official dog because of its long history in helping explorers and miners during the gold rush. "Theoretically, today's malamutes are doing the same job as their ancestors. In other words, they continue to be the same amazing dogs that they were throughout Alaska's long history." The malamute is huge, just like Alaska. OCEANA GAMEL-HOWES, third grade, Polaris K-12 School, said the Alaskan malamute was named after the Inuit tribe called Malamute. This breed has been in Alaska for over 5,000 years, perhaps much longer. Recent DNA tests confirm that it is one of the oldest breeds of dogs. 5:03:23 PM MADELINE FLORES, fifth Grade, Polaris K-12 School, said Alaskan malamutes stayed with Inuit children while their parents were out on hunts. They allowed babies to crawl in and snuggle up with their puppies. Explorers often reported that the work dog kept by the Malamute people was less wild, more friendly, and capable of an enormous amount of work. She pointed out that the husky is already recognized through the official state sport. Alaska dog mushing wouldn't be the same without the husky, but that breed cannot match the long and varied history of the malamute, she concluded. ADELINE WRIGHT, second grade, Polaris K-12 School, said Alaskan malamutes continued to be valuable freight dogs long after the gold rush. They played an important role in the 1925 run to deliver lifesaving serum to Nome. During World War I they were called into service delivering supplies to stranded French soldiers. In World War II Alaskan malamutes pulled sleds in areas that were not accessible by other transportation. 5:07:08 PM YUNG SHU WONG, fifth grade, Polaris K-12 School, asked the committee to set aside any bias about a favorite breed of dog and consider the intent of HB 14. "The Alaskan malamute's 5,000 plus years represents the entire history of Alaska." This breed has impressed explorers, miners, and settlers. The Alaskan malamute participated in the serum run and hauled massive amounts of freight. The list goes on. The Alaskan malamute has been involved in Alaska's history and has been a good team member for over 5,000 years. The legacy of the Alaskan malamute speaks for itself; passing HB 14 honors that legacy and won't cost the state a cent."The Alaskan malamute deserves to be recognized as our official state dog," he concluded. MS. RODREGUEZ said the children have worked for over two years on this bill; they have done the research and they are correct. "We totally support them." CHAIR MCGUIRE thanked the students and teachers for their hard work. The testimony has been compelling, she said. 5:10:08 PM ESTHER ERICKSON, sixth grade, Academy Charter School, said the husky should be the state dog because it helped carry serum to kids in Nome and it has a great history in Alaska. MARIAH YOUNG, sixth grade, Academy Charter School, said she is testifying against making the Alaska malamute the state dog. She loves malamutes but the husky is steeped a little deeper into Alaska history. The husky pulled a sled over 1,000 miles to get medicine for a sick boy in Anchorage when the medicine and the doctor were in Nome. The husky was specifically bred to have thick fur, their paws work as snow shoes. The husky participated in Alaska's first great race; it would be a good dog to represent Alaska. 5:12:55 PM ZACHARY BLOOM, sixth grade, Academy Charter School, said the husky should be the state dog. It ran the great race over the Iditarod Trail. Huskies were bred to make it across tough terrain. "People come to Alaska to see huskies and not malamutes," he said. STEVEN MURPHY, sixth grade, Academy Charter School, said the husky should be the Alaska state dog because of the Iditarod race. They saved lives and helped people. Huskies are more widely known around America than the malamute. "Huskies are specifically the Alaska dog," he said. BRANDY BOOKOUT, sixth grade, Academy Charter School, stated her belief that some of the information about the malamute is not correct; it is about the husky instead. The husky participated in the serum run to Nome and restored hope to the sick. They are thought of as an Alaskan dog, not the malamute. Most people don't know what a malamute is. 5:16:24 PM ELLI WALTON, sixth grade, Academy Charter School, testified that the husky should be the state dog. People in the Lower-48 think of huskies when they think about an Alaskan dog. Why make another dog the symbol of Alaska? The husky was bred in Alaska for Alaskans while the malamute is an ancient dog that came from Siberia. ELIAS STRATTON, sixth grade, Academy Charter School, said the husky should be the state dog because he owns a husky. Last weekend his dog pulled him on his bike along the Coastal Trail. People don't know what a malamute is; Alaska is known for its huskies. COLE CLEMENTS, sixth grade, Academy Charter School, said he believes that huskies should be the state dog because of previous testimony. They have heavy fur, they like the cold weather, and they helped a sick kid in Nome. He polled the audience asking how many have seen a malamute and how many have seen a husky. "That kind of proves that everybody's seen a husky. That is my point," he concluded. SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI asked if the Academy Charter School has a nickname. MR. CLEMENTS replied his school is known as "Home of the Huskies." 5:21:11 PM LOGAN METZLER, sixth grade, Academy Charter School, said until today he had no idea what a malamute is, but even when he lived in Arizona he knew about the husky. His grandpa is a spokesperson for the Iditarod and he supports the husky as the state dog. They are built for Alaska while the malamute was just brought over with hunters. He believes the husky should be the state dog. MEGAN THOMAS, sixth grade, Academy Charter School, said the husky should be the state dog because she has lived in Alaska her whole life and has seen a malamute just once. She sees huskies all the time and there are more huskies in the Iditarod. It would be honorary to make the husky the state dog. At ease from 5:23 p.m. to 5:29 p.m. 5:29:12 PM CHAIR MCGUIRE said these students have put forward good arguments on both sides. She related that sometimes the goal in bringing a bill forward is to elicit a healthy debate. That has happened here. She thanked the Polaris students for bringing this bill forward and getting so many fellow Alaskans to weigh in. She encouraged them to continue to participate in the legislative process. SHEILA MARTIN, dog breeder, Palmer, said she has lived in Alaska for 25 years. She breeds and trains dogs and thus is familiar with the American Kennel Club (AKC) recognized breeds. She expressed the opinion that recognizing the malamute as the official state dog would be a mistake. The AKC recognizes the Alaskan malamute as a breed that is separate and distinct and doesn't encompass the many dogs used in sled dog racing. The state dog should represent the dog that has been used by past, present and future Alaskans, she said. This can only be the sled dogs of Alaska. This is the dog that mushers and Alaskans call the Alaskan husky. 5:34:31 PM CHAIR MCGUIRE asked if she has thought about compromises to recognize both a state dog of sport and a state dog. MS. MARTIN expressed reservations. CHAIR MCGUIRE asked if there is an Alaskan malamute. MS. MARTIN said that is apples and oranges. Someone familiar with the AKC thinks about a breed standard when asked about the Alaskan malamute, but a Mackenzie River malamute that she purchased in Alaska didn't fit the standard. That dog was considered an Alaskan husky too. CHAIR MCGUIRE asked the sponsor if she's thought of a way to accommodate both canines. REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER said it is the prerogative of the committee, but the bill says the Alaskan malamute. The AKC has its own rules. Initially she favored the husky, but it is a mixed breed. CHAIR MCGUIRE asked if she would support amending the bill to include the Alaskan malamute as the official state dog and the Alaskan husky as the official state sled dog. REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER replied dog sledding is already the state sport and that encompasses all dogs that are used in mushing. The malamute has a multi-thousand year history in Alaska and is associated with the first Alaskans. The malamute is the only AKC recognized breed that is indigenous to North America. CHAIR MCGUIRE asked the committee if they support the compromise. 5:39:34 PM SENATOR HUGGINS proposed letting Alaska students vote on the issue. SENATOR WAGONER concurred with Senator Huggins. SENATOR FRENCH said this is what democracy is all about. Having ballots distributed to students across the state is a great idea. 5:42:31 PM SENATOR HUGGINS encouraged the committee to seriously consider letting the students vote. REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER said this bill is largely about student engagement and learning about the process. Another school might want to bring forward another bill or amend existing statute if this were to pass. SENATOR WAGONER supported letting sixth grade Alaskan students vote on the issue. It would be a very educational process. CHAIR MCGUIRE asked the teachers at Polaris if they would continue the quest for democracy if the committee decided to have students vote on the issue. SENATOR STEVENS suggested turning this over to the commissioner of education. "If the commissioner is worth his salt, he'll find a way to have an election and figure it out." 5:45:54 PM MS. RODRIGUEZ said her group disagrees because it took 2.5 years to get to this point. The necessary information can't get out in time to have a vote. Putting this to a vote would be an entirely different process. This isn't how you pass laws; you don't put an issue out to a small group of people to speak for everyone, she said. "We very respectfully object," she said. SENATOR WAGONER disagreed saying this is the way the legislative process works. 5:49:05 PM SENATOR HUGGINS agreed with Senator Wagoner saying with due respect to each of the kids that worked hard on this there are lots of differing ideas. MS. RODRIGUEZ said we understand that things can happen to a bill, but the intent of the bill is to honor the whole history of Alaska, not just dog mushing. The Alaskan malamute has been a part of the entire history of Alaska. "We hope that you can understand that," she said. 5:50:41 PM CHAIR MCGUIRE said this bill just came to the Senate this week and is moving quickly because of the good work the students have done. At ease from 5:50 p.m. to 5:51 p.m. 5:51:48 PM CHAIR MCGUIRE noted that she was part of the bills regarding the state seal and the state flag song; they elicited lots of emotion. She thanked the students and held HB 14 in committee.