- Associated Press - Sunday, March 12, 2017

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - With much of the attention this legislative session on addressing Alaska’s multibillion-dollar budget, a number of bills that could affect you or your business have flown a bit under the radar.

Here is a look at some of them:

REAL ID

In 2008, the Legislature passed a law barring state agencies from spending money to help implement national proof-of-identity standards, known as Real ID. Some lawmakers saw the federal law as an example of overreach.

The federal law, passed in response to the 2001 terror attacks, imposes tougher requirements for proof of legal U.S. residency in order for state driver’s licenses to be valid for federal purposes.

If the state still isn’t in compliance when its current extension expires in June, it risks having Alaska-issued driver’s licenses and state ID cards rejected for air travel that requires federal screening and at military bases and other federal facilities. The air travel change would start in January.

Gov. Bill Walker has proposed a system that would allow Alaskans to choose between an identification card that is compliant with the federal law and one that is not.

His proposal has won support from labor unions that deliver goods to or otherwise do work on military bases. The superintendent of the Anchorage School District, which has elementary schools on a base, also has urged swift action on the bill.

The measure is scheduled for a hearing in a House committee Tuesday, along with a bipartisan resolution urging repeal of the federal law.

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PUBLIC SMOKING BAN

Sen. Peter Micciche said his bill to restrict public smoking doesn’t remove a smoker’s right to smoke; it simply limits their ability to “adversely affect the health of Alaska’s nonsmoking employees.”

The Soldotna Republican, in a statement accompanying his statewide smoke-free workplace bill, said communities accounting for more than half of Alaska’s population already have smoke-free laws similar to what he’s proposing.

His bill, a version of which died last session, lists places where smoking would be prohibited. They include offices, schools and places that provide paid child care, as well as cabs or on other modes of public transportation.

It also bars people from lighting up within 10 feet of the entrance to a bar or restaurant that serves alcohol.

The measure would not prevent smoking at authorized, licensed marijuana establishments in free-standing buildings. Marijuana regulators are mulling permitting people to smoke or consume cannabis at stores where they can legally buy it.

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CONTRACEPTION

A bill pending in the House would require health care insurers in Alaska’s group and individual market to provide coverage for prescription contraceptives and voluntarily sterilization procedures. It also would allow for women to receive a year’s worth of contraception at once.

In a statement accompanying the bill, Democratic Rep. Matt Claman of Anchorage, the sponsor, said the proposal seeks to reduce the costs of unintended pregnancies.

A version of this bill also is pending in the Senate. Similar legislation died last year.

In written comments to Claman, Dennis DeWitt, Alaska state director for the National Federation of Independent Business, called the bill an increased mandate and discriminatory against small employers.

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