Legislature(2013 - 2014)CAPITOL 106

04/09/2013 08:00 AM STATE AFFAIRS

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
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= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved Out of Committee
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
            HB 139-SEXUAL ORIENTATION DISCRIMINATION                                                                        
8:37:32 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR LYNN  announced that the  last order of business  was HOUSE                                                               
BILL  NO. 139  "An Act  adding to  the powers  and duties  of the                                                               
State  Commission   for  Human   Rights;  and  relating   to  and                                                               
prohibiting discrimination based on  sexual orientation or gender                                                               
identity or expression."                                                                                                        
8:38:34 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  BETH  KERTTULA,   Alaska  State  Legislature,  as                                                               
sponsor, introduced  HB 139.   She thanked the  committee members                                                               
for input they had given  regarding the proposed legislation, and                                                               
indicated  the  intent  to  continue working  on  it  during  the                                                               
interim.   She credited her  staff, Elizabeth Bolling,  as having                                                               
done most of the  work on HB 139.  She  noted that Skiff Lobaugh,                                                               
as director of  Personnel for the Legislative  Affairs Agency and                                                               
someone  who  works on  issues  related  to human  resources  and                                                               
employment, was present to answer questions.                                                                                    
8:40:17 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR LYNN announced  that there would be no time  to hear public                                                               
testimony at  the present time.   He remarked upon  the important                                                               
nature of  HB 139 and  said there  have been cultural  changes in                                                               
the world.   He stated, "Frankly,  it's a sign of  the times that                                                               
we're  considering  legislation  such   as  this."    Chair  Lynn                                                               
emphasized  the  need to  consider  all  points.   He  asked  the                                                               
sponsor's staff  to address the  sectional analysis  [included in                                                               
the committee packet].                                                                                                          
8:41:14 AM                                                                                                                    
ELIZABETH  BOLLING, Staff,  Representative Beth  Kerttula, Alaska                                                               
State Legislature,  presented HB 139 on  behalf of Representative                                                               
Kerttula,  sponsor.    She  stated  that  HB  139  would  protect                                                               
Alaskans  from  overt  discrimination  on  the  basis  of  sexual                                                               
orientation and  gender identity  or expression.   The protection                                                               
would pertain to employment,  housing, public accommodations, and                                                               
financing or  credit.  She  relayed that currently  those working                                                               
in the  executive branch are  protected [from  discrimination] by                                                               
administrative order;  however, the order  does not apply  to the                                                               
two other branches  of government in Alaska,  the general public,                                                               
or retired military personnel.                                                                                                  
MS. BOLLING  said employers that  prefer a particular  dress code                                                               
have the right  to put one in  place; they have the  right not to                                                               
hire someone  if they feel that  person does not hold  the values                                                               
of their organization.   For example, she said  Catholics are not                                                               
required to hire atheists to work  in the church or women to work                                                               
as priests.   These  exceptions would still  apply under  HB 139.                                                               
She stated that people  have a right to say if  they do not think                                                               
a person  is a good match  for their organization.   For example,                                                               
she said AS  18.80.230 (b) allows companies, such  as the fitness                                                               
organization, "Curves," to refuse  to hire or accommodate persons                                                               
who are  not the sex of  their regular clientele, thus,  a female                                                               
can go to Curves and expect an all-female environment.                                                                          
MS. BOLLING  emphasized it is  important to remember that  HB 139                                                               
would not only  protect those who are homosexual,  but also those                                                               
who  are heterosexual.   She  said people  often perceive  gender                                                               
identity   and  orientation   before   being   "told  by   people                                                               
themselves."     She   added,  "We   can  misinterpret   people's                                                               
expression of affection."   She stated, "It  shouldn't be illegal                                                               
to  avoid  hiring  someone  because   you  think  they  might  be                                                               
different than  you like."   She said retired  military personnel                                                               
often struggle in  the transition from military  life, where they                                                               
are protected, to civilian life,  where "there is no protection,"                                                               
and  she  expressed  concern  that   that  puts  those  returning                                                               
soldiers in a difficult position.                                                                                               
CHAIR  LYNN offered  his understanding  that the  Municipality of                                                               
Anchorage had proposed  an ordinance, which he did not  pass.  He                                                               
asked  Ms. Bolling  to give  a brief  description of  how HB  139                                                               
differs from the ordinance that was debated in Anchorage.                                                                       
MS.  BOLLING responded  that Proposition  5  provided for  gender                                                               
identity  and  sexual  orientation,   but  did  not  provide  for                                                               
expression.   In response to  Chair Lynn, she explained  that the                                                               
word "expression",  as used  in HB 139,  refers to  hand holding,                                                               
hugging, and kissing.                                                                                                           
8:44:37 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE KELLER directed attention  to the words "behavior"                                                               
and "expression",  on page  8, line  9, of HB  139, and  he asked                                                               
what the difference  between the two words is  under the proposed                                                               
MS.  BOLLING answered,  "Behavior  is just  someone's actions  or                                                               
words, but expression also includes  their clothing styles."  She                                                               
indicated that under HB 139,  employers would still be allowed to                                                               
enforce a dress  code and "all the exceptions  that are currently                                                               
in  place [would]  still apply."   She  said expression  includes                                                               
"things that are nonverbal and verbal."                                                                                         
CHAIR LYNN asked if that would include manner of dress.                                                                         
MS. BOLLING answered yes.                                                                                                       
8:45:47 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE KREISS-TOMKINS  asked who would be  affected by HB
MS.  BOLLING  suggested  that there  were  testifiers  who  could                                                               
answer that question if there  was enough time to hear testimony.                                                               
She  said HB  139 would  make everyone  feel safe,  regardless of                                                               
his/her gender identity.                                                                                                        
CHAIR  LYNN  asked those  who  signed  up  to testify  to  submit                                                               
written testimony.                                                                                                              
8:46:59 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  HUGHES  remarked, "In  the  list  of the  various                                                               
things,  already ...  it lists  race,  religion, color,  national                                                               
origin, age,  and sex."   She asked  Ms. Bolling "why  that isn't                                                               
adequate  and why  you  feel  that additional  item  needs to  be                                                               
MS. BOLLING responded as follows:                                                                                               
     I called  the Human Rights Commission  under the Office                                                                    
     of  the Governor,  and asked  them  that question,  and                                                                    
     they weren't  able to get  back to  me in time,  so the                                                                    
     truth is that  I don't know, and frankly ...  I see why                                                                    
     it  could protect.   But  since, I  think, many  people                                                                    
     feel  like there  isn't protection,  it's important  to                                                                    
     add this  to make it  specific, so it's clear  that you                                                                    
     really  cannot discriminate  against  people for  their                                                                    
     sexual orientation.                                                                                                        
8:48:11 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE HUGHES  asked for an example  of how heterosexuals                                                               
would benefit from the protection proposed under HB 139.                                                                        
MS.  BOLLING  answered that  under  HB  139, a  heterosexual  who                                                               
wanted, for example,  to join a group such  as Parents, Families,                                                               
&  Friends of  Lesbians and  Gays (PFLAG)  or the  [Juneau] Pride                                                               
Chorus, could not be denied membership.                                                                                         
8:48:50 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE ISAACSON  said Ms.  Bolling had said  churches are                                                               
allowed to  not hire  women as  priests, and  he asked  why PFLAG                                                               
would not  be able keep  anyone out  of its organization  who did                                                               
not fit its culture.                                                                                                            
MS. BOLLING  answered, "Simply because  it's not provided  for in                                                               
the  law."   In response  to the  chair, she  added, "There's  no                                                               
exception for that in our statutes."                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE ISAACSON said  he does not see how  "this is going                                                               
to provide  them with that  either, because ... you're  adding to                                                               
the list,  but you're  not ...  specifying ...  homosexual groups                                                               
have to hire heterosexuals."                                                                                                    
MS.  BOLLING asked  if Representative  Isaacson  would like  that                                                               
exception added to  the proposed bill.  She  said currently there                                                               
is no exception "for that sort of thing."                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE  ISAACSON  clarified that  he  is  not asking  for                                                               
that,  but  said  there  is an  inconsistency  in  Ms.  Bolling's                                                               
argument.   He stated, "At this  point I wouldn't be  able to ...                                                               
vote to go forward, you know, in that regard."                                                                                  
8:50:43 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE HUGHES remarked  that the aforementioned exception                                                               
for  priesthood  is  an  exception  based on  sex,  and  if  that                                                               
exception  is allowed,  she asked,  "Why  could there  not be  an                                                               
exception made for that?"                                                                                                       
8:51:16 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  KERTTULA said  these are  the kinds  of questions                                                               
she  welcomes.   She  stated  she believes  the  reason [for  the                                                               
exception  regarding   priesthood]  is   because  of   the  First                                                               
Amendment  freedom of  religion and  right to  association.   She                                                               
said  there   is  a  distinction   in  employment,   which  seems                                                               
fundamental  in this  discussion,  and that  is  that one  cannot                                                               
discriminate  when "reasonable  demands  of the  position do  not                                                               
require  distinction."   However,  she said  there are  obviously                                                               
certain things that  would require a distinction.   She indicated                                                               
that  clear answers  to  questions could  be  arrived at  through                                                               
ongoing discussion.                                                                                                             
MS. BOLLING clarified  that both the Human  Rights Commission and                                                               
Legislative  Legal  and  Research   Services  informed  her  that                                                               
although priests  do get paychecks  and are provided  housing, it                                                               
is considered religious office, not  employment.  She added, "So,                                                               
that's part of the exception."                                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE   KERTTULA   thanked   the   committee   for   its                                                               
consideration  of  HB  139  and  its  willingness  to  "help  all                                                               
Alaskans no matter  ... their race, creed,  sex, sexual identity,                                                               
or gender."  She concluded, "It's an exciting and good day."                                                                    
[HB 139 was held over.]                                                                                                         

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
01 CSSB63(STA).pdf HSTA 4/9/2013 8:00:00 AM
SB 63
02 CSSB 63(STA) Sponsor Statement.pdf HSTA 4/9/2013 8:00:00 AM
SB 63
03 CSSB 63(STA) Explanation of Changes.pdf HSTA 4/9/2013 8:00:00 AM
SB 63
04 CSSB 63(STA) Sectional Analysis.pdf HSTA 4/9/2013 8:00:00 AM
SB 63
05 SB 63(STA) Fiscal Note.pdf HSTA 4/9/2013 8:00:00 AM
SB 63
06 SB63 ADVANCE PRINTING.PDF HSTA 4/9/2013 8:00:00 AM
SB 63
07 SB63 AT PUBLISHING.PDF HSTA 4/9/2013 8:00:00 AM
SB 63
08 SB63 SERVICE BUSI PRINT.PDF HSTA 4/9/2013 8:00:00 AM
SB 63
09 SB63 TECHNI PRINT.PDF HSTA 4/9/2013 8:00:00 AM
SB 63
10 SB63 Letter of Support State Chamber.pdf HSTA 4/9/2013 8:00:00 AM
SB 63
01 HB 139.pdf HSTA 4/9/2013 8:00:00 AM
HB 139
02 HB139 Sponsor Statement.pdf HSTA 4/9/2013 8:00:00 AM
HB 139
03 HB139 Sectional Analysis.pdf HSTA 4/9/2013 8:00:00 AM
HB 139
04 HB139 Anchorage Research.pdf HSTA 4/9/2013 8:00:00 AM
HB 139
05 HB139 National Research.pdf HSTA 4/9/2013 8:00:00 AM
HB 139
06 HB139 Letter of Support Longworth.pdf HSTA 4/9/2013 8:00:00 AM
HB 139
07 HB139-DOC-OC-04-04-13.pdf HSTA 4/9/2013 8:00:00 AM
HB 139
08 Letters of Support HB139.PDF HSTA 4/9/2013 8:00:00 AM
HB 139
09 Additional Letters of Suppot HB139.PDF HSTA 4/9/2013 8:00:00 AM
HB 139