Legislature(2023 - 2024)GRUENBERG 120

03/14/2023 03:00 PM House STATE AFFAIRS

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved CSHB 2(STA) Out of Committee
-- Public Testimony --
Moved HB 23 Out of Committee
Moved CSHJR 3(JUD) Out of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
        HB   2-CONTRACTS: PROHIBIT ISRAEL DISCRIMINATION                                                                    
3:04:29 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SHAW  announced that the  first order of business  would be                                                               
HOUSE  BILL NO.  2, "An  Act  relating to  contracts with  public                                                               
agencies;  and relating  to the  State of  Israel."   [Before the                                                               
committee, adopted as the work  draft on 3/7/23, was the proposed                                                               
committee  substitute   (CS)  for  HB  2,   Version  33-LS0084\B,                                                               
Dunmire, 3/1/23, "Version B."]                                                                                                  
3:05:01 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SHAW opened public testimony on HB 2.                                                                                     
3:05:44 PM                                                                                                                    
The committee took a brief at-ease.                                                                                             
3:06:04 PM                                                                                                                    
BOB  KAUFMAN  expressed his  support  for  HB  2.   He  shared  a                                                               
personal   anecdote,  opining   that  the   boycott,  divestment,                                                               
sanctions (BDS) movement  was designed to villainize  Israel.  He                                                               
stated  that anti-BDS  legislation was  in the  interest of  both                                                               
Alaska and  the U.S.,  as trade with  Israel created  billions in                                                               
investment and tens-of-thousands of jobs.   BDS aimed to end this                                                               
mutually beneficial relationship  by severing cooperation between                                                               
the U.S. and Israel, he said,  in addition to weakening Israel as                                                               
the homeland  of the Jewish  people.   He shared his  belief that                                                               
the bill  was well designed.   He urged the legislature  to enact                                                               
anti-BDS  legislation to  remove from  the table  the Palestinian                                                               
leadership's desire to liquidate Israel.                                                                                        
3:08:49 PM                                                                                                                    
GARY  MORTON, Christians  United for  Israel, stated  his support                                                               
for the  bill, citing  it as  vital to Israel  and to  the Alaska                                                               
Jewish  and  Christian  communities.    He  urged  unanimous  and                                                               
bipartisan  support  for HB  2,  characterizing  the campaign  to                                                               
boycott  Israel as  immoral.   He  discussed  the BDS  movement's                                                               
strategy to systematically  spread hate, as well  as the parallel                                                               
rise  in anti-Semitic  crime across  the country.   He  urged the                                                               
state to "do the right thing" for Israel.                                                                                       
3:11:16 PM                                                                                                                    
ALICE MORTON,  Representing Self,  stated her  support for  HB 2,                                                               
characterizing Israel as  a good trade partner with  Alaska.  She                                                               
discussed the BDS  movement that sought to  socially alienate and                                                               
economically isolate Israel.  She  urged the committee to support                                                               
the bill.                                                                                                                       
3:12:37 PM                                                                                                                    
PAULA  COLESCOTT, Christians  United  for  Israel, discussed  the                                                               
mutual beneficial  relationship between  Israel and Alaska.   She                                                               
indicated that the  political gain for BDS was to  bring down the                                                               
state of  Israel.   She described choosing  to stand  with Israel                                                               
and defending the Jewish people's  right to self-determination in                                                               
their ancestral  homeland as "American."   She encouraged support                                                               
for the bill.                                                                                                                   
3:14:31 PM                                                                                                                    
BRAD LOWERY,  Executive Pastor, Anchorage First  Assembly, agreed                                                               
with the statements  made by previous testifiers.   He emphasized                                                               
his  support for  the  proposed legislation,  as  the bill  would                                                               
ensure that  Alaskan taxpayer dollars were  not spent subsidizing                                                               
an  anti-Semitic  effort  designed  with  terroristic  intent  to                                                               
destroy Israel.   He further noted that HB 2  would not constrain                                                               
an individual's right  to boycott.  He requested  support for the                                                               
HB 2.                                                                                                                           
3:16:00 PM                                                                                                                    
QUEEN PARKER, Representing  Self, expressed support for  HB 2 and                                                               
voiced her agreeance with the previous testifiers.                                                                              
3:16:41 PM                                                                                                                    
IVAN HODES, Representing Self, noted that  he was a member of the                                                               
Jewish congregation  in Anchorage,  Beth Sholom.   He  stated his                                                               
opposition to HB 2.  He opined  that it was a business's right to                                                               
choose which entities to do  business with, adding that the state                                                               
should not be determining whether  those choices were acceptable.                                                               
He  acknowledged that  some    but not  all -  BDS was  rooted in                                                               
anti-Semitism.   Nonetheless,  he pointed  out that  many of  the                                                               
policies  carried out  by the  state of  Israel were  in conflict                                                               
with his  interpretation of Judaism;  therefore, he  rejected the                                                               
idea  that  any  criticism  of   Israel  was  anti-Semitic.    He                                                               
continued by  noting that most  of the testifiers  were Christian                                                               
not  Jewish,  characterizing their  support  for  the measure  as                                                               
hypocritical.  He  argued that if people were  truly committed to                                                               
anti-Semitism, domestic  anti-Semitism should be included  in the                                                               
bill as well.                                                                                                                   
3:19:50 PM                                                                                                                    
ALEX   KOPLIN,  Representing   Self,  characterized   the  bill's                                                               
reference to state  taxpayer dollars as misleading,  as there was                                                               
no statewide  sales or income  tax in  Alaska.  He  discussed his                                                               
opposition  to the  bill  moving forward  and  elaborated on  his                                                               
Jewish heritage.   He pointed out that his opposition  to many of                                                               
government issues  in Israel did  not make him anti-Semitic.   He                                                               
opined that the bill would give too much power to Israel.                                                                       
3:23:20 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAVA SCHAPIRA,  Representing Self, shared her  strong opposition                                                               
to  HB 2.    She explained  that in  practice,  the BDS  movement                                                               
allowed  people  to  boycott  products   made  in  Israel.    She                                                               
described  BDS  as a  method  of  political speech  that  allowed                                                               
people  to object  to  Israeli policies  without  violence.   She                                                               
characterized the  bill as "anti-free speech,"  insisting that it                                                               
violated First Amendment  rights and would likely  be struck down                                                               
by the  Alaska Supreme  Court.  She  opined that  the legislation                                                               
had  nothing to  do with  protecting  Jews in  Alaska from  anti-                                                               
Semitism, and more  to do with targeting  other leftist movements                                                               
and allowing the government to monitor political speech.                                                                        
3:26:22 PM                                                                                                                    
The committee took a brief at-ease.                                                                                             
3:27:44 PM                                                                                                                    
JOHN MILLER, Representing Self, voiced his  support for HB 2.  He                                                               
believed that it was in the  best interest of the U.S. and Alaska                                                               
to  support Israel  and to  discourage countries  or corporations                                                               
that would attempt to harm an ally.                                                                                             
3:28:55 PM                                                                                                                    
LORAN  BAXTER, Representing  Self,  affiliated  himself with  the                                                               
International Fellowship  of Christians  and Jews  and Christians                                                               
United  for  Israel.   He  stated  his  support  for  HB 2.    He                                                               
emphasized Israel's  right to a  biblical homeland.   He remarked                                                               
that Israel  was the only  democratic country  in its area  and a                                                               
strong ally to the U.S. in  an "unforgiving" region of the world.                                                               
He  shared his  personal  reverence for  Israel's development  of                                                               
effective  missile  defense  technology. He  relayed  a  personal                                                               
anecdote.   He  questioned  the  message that  would  be sent  by                                                               
failing to pass the legislation.                                                                                                
3:32:38 PM                                                                                                                    
STEVE ZELENER,  Representing Self,  expressed his support  for HB
2.   He  informed the  committee of  his personal  background and                                                               
summarized  his experience  moving from  his birthplace  of Kyiv,                                                               
Ukraine to  Israel at  a young  age.  He  referenced the  rise in                                                               
anti-Semitic  attacks  against  students.   He  opined  that  any                                                               
creation of more anti-Semitism would  continue to destroy culture                                                               
and friendship on  campus.  He urged the legislative  body to "do                                                               
the right thing."                                                                                                               
3:34:49 PM                                                                                                                    
SARAH BELLER, Representing Self, shared  that she was an attorney                                                               
in  Anchorage and  a member  of  Congregation Beth  Sholom.   She                                                               
stated   her   strong  opposition   to   the   bill,  which   she                                                               
characterized as  dangerous.  She  contended that the  bill would                                                               
not  make  Jews  safer  in  Alaska and  would  not  help  Israel.                                                               
Instead, she  said, HB  2 would allow  the government  to dictate                                                               
what Alaskans  think and  how they spend  their money.   Further,                                                               
she believed  that the bill  likely violated the  First Amendment                                                               
rights,  as  it  attempted  to  coerce  businesses  into  certain                                                               
political views and  actions.  She pointed out that  the bill was                                                               
written by the far-right  organization ALEC [American Legislative                                                               
Exchange Council],  which was pushing  the same law in  dozens of                                                               
states around the country.   She stressed that out-of-state money                                                               
should not be allowed to  dictate Alaskans' beliefs or where they                                                               
shop and spend their money.  She urged a "no" vote on HB 2.                                                                     
3:35:59 PM                                                                                                                    
GERALDINE PRYME, Representing Self, stated  her support for HB 2.                                                               
She  characterized the  proposed legislation  as vital  to Israel                                                               
and  the local  Jewish community.    She referenced  the rise  in                                                               
anti-Semitism across [Anchorage].                                                                                               
3:36:44 PM                                                                                                                    
CANDY MILLER,  Representing Self,  stated her  support for  HB 2.                                                               
She  said she  was  in  favor of  policies  and legislation  that                                                               
supported   sound   positions   aimed  at   creating   a   strong                                                               
relationship between U.S. and Israel.                                                                                           
3:37:51 PM                                                                                                                    
ALEX   PETKANAS,  Representing   Self,   emphasized  his   strong                                                               
opposition  to the  bill, noting  that  he attended  Congregation                                                               
Beth Sholom  regularly for services  and adult  learning classes.                                                               
He characterized  the legislation as  an affront to  free speech,                                                               
adding that  it would do  nothing to  protect Jewish people.   He                                                               
contended  that anti-Semitism  was not  the same  as being  anti-                                                               
Israel.   He noted that  as Israel was  not his homeland,  he had                                                               
the right  to oppose  the harm  done to  Palestinian people  by a                                                               
violent government.   He added that  as an American, he  also had                                                               
the right to  free speech and to protest his  own government.  He                                                               
characterized any attempt to take  away that right as disturbing.                                                               
He employed the committee to oppose the bill.                                                                                   
3:39:02 PM                                                                                                                    
PHILLIP MOSER, Representing Self, stated  his opposition to HB 2,                                                               
describing it  as incredible and  harmful.   He said he  found it                                                               
incredulous  that   the  bill  was   being  brought   forward  by                                                               
legislators who  didn't speak  out against  a colleague  that was                                                               
linked to  a Holocaust denial website.   He remarked, "I  find it                                                               
incredulous that  this action  is coming from  the same  law body                                                               
that  decried the  situation in  Russia, yet  still has  the vast                                                               
majority of  their funds  invested in the  same things  they said                                                               
they were  going to  divest from."   He stated  that he  found it                                                               
incredulous that  the bill was  coming from the  same legislative                                                               
body that forwarded  anti-trans bills.  He elaborated  on the BDS                                                               
movement, describing it  as legitimate and not  anti-Semitic.  He                                                               
reiterated his opposition to the bill.                                                                                          
3:42:18 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SHAW closed public testimony on HB 2.                                                                                     
3:42:44 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SARAH  VANCE,  Alaska  State  Legislature,  prime                                                               
sponsor of  HB 2, clarified  that the  bill was focused  on state                                                               
contracts  related  to Israel,  adding  that  it would  reinforce                                                               
Alaska's  support for  Israel  as an  ally.   She  said the  bill                                                               
clearly stated  that it would  not infringe upon  an individual's                                                               
right  to free  speech.   She discussed  legal challenges  to the                                                               
legislation  across  the  country,  noting that  HB  2  had  been                                                               
tailored  to avoid  such occurrences  with the  inclusion of  one                                                               
word that was absent from the  bills that were litigated in other                                                               
states.   She emphasized that  HB 2  was crafted after  a "lesson                                                               
learned"  from  the  legal  challenges  in  those  states.    She                                                               
described  the legislation  as vetted,  sound policy  that sought                                                               
the authority to justify Alaskan dollars in support of Israel.                                                                  
CHAIR SHAW invited questions from members of the committee.                                                                     
3:45:12 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE STORY sought to verify  that the legislation aimed                                                               
to  limit   state  contracts  with  public   agencies  that  were                                                               
participating in boycotts of Israel.                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE  VANCE  explained  that   the  bill  pertained  to                                                               
businesses  with   contracts  over  $100,000  and   at  least  10                                                               
employees that were  choosing to boycott Israel.   She emphasized                                                               
that smaller businesses would not be impacted.                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE  STORY   asked  why  the  Alaska   Permanent  Fund                                                               
Corporation (APFC) was exempted.                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  VANCE   indicated  that  APFC  was   excluded  to                                                               
maintain its distance from social - or "lightning rod"  issues.                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE  STORY asked  whether the  state had  any existing                                                               
contracts that would be impacted by the bill.                                                                                   
3:46:59 PM                                                                                                                    
JAKE  ALMEIDA, Staff,  Representative Sarah  Vance, Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature,   offered   to   follow  up   with   the   requested                                                               
3:48:10 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  WRIGHT  moved  to  report  CSHB  2,  Version  33-                                                               
LS0084\B,  Dunmire,  3/1/23,  out of  committee  with  individual                                                               
recommendations and  the accompanying fiscal notes.   There being                                                               
no  objection, CSHB  2(STA)  was reported  from  the House  State                                                               
Affairs Standing Committee.                                                                                                     

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