Legislature(2023 - 2024)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)

02/14/2023 03:30 PM Senate STATE AFFAIRS

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved CSSB 26(STA) Out of Committee
-- Public Testimony <Time Limit May Be Set> --
Heard & Held
-- Invited & Public Testimony --
            SB  22-PROCLAIM JUNETEENTH DAY A HOLIDAY                                                                        
3:38:35 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  KAWASAKI   reconvened  the   meeting  and   announced  the                                                               
consideration  of  SENATE  BILL   NO.  22  "An  Act  establishing                                                               
Juneteenth Day as a legal holiday."                                                                                             
3:40:39 PM                                                                                                                    
ELVI GRAY-JACKSON, District G,  Alaska State Legislature, Juneau,                                                               
Alaska,  sponsor of  SB  22, stated  that  this legislation  will                                                               
elevate  Juneteenth to  the level  of other  legal holidays.  The                                                               
hope is  that this will  create a  better environment for  a more                                                               
thorough  understanding of  the history  of African  Americans in                                                               
Alaska and the US.                                                                                                              
She said  thoughts about America  elicit feelings of  freedom and                                                               
justice, but  studying Juneteenth will  make it clear  that these                                                               
ideas  have not  been  equally applied.  After President  Abraham                                                               
Lincoln  issued the  Emancipation  Proclamation,  it took  nearly                                                               
three years for  many enslaved African Americans  to realize this                                                               
new freedom.                                                                                                                    
SENATOR GRAY-JACKSON continued to  present SB 22 paraphrasing the                                                               
sponsor statement that read as follows:                                                                                         
     In 1865,  union soldiers  landed at Galveston,  TX with                                                                    
     news  that the  war  had ended.  This  news meant  that                                                                    
     enslaved  people  were  now free.  Since  1865,  people                                                                    
     across the  world have joined together  to celebrate an                                                                    
     important day.  Juneteenth- also  known as  Freedom Day                                                                    
     or  Emancipation  Day-  is a  holiday  celebrating  the                                                                    
     emancipation   of   previously  enslaved   peoples   in                                                                    
     America. Each  year on June  19th, people of  all races                                                                    
     join one another in fellowship  to honor those who gave                                                                    
     so much  for America  and educate themselves  about the                                                                    
     struggles  toward   liberation  for   Black  Americans.                                                                    
     Juneteenth   has   been   recognized   and   celebrated                                                                    
     throughout Alaska. There have  been events ranging from                                                                    
     parades to street fairs.                                                                                                   
     Senate Bill 22 would  make Juneteenth an observed legal                                                                    
     state  holiday alongside  July  4th  and Memorial  Day.                                                                    
     This bill would make Juneteenth a paid state holiday.                                                                      
SENATOR GRAY-JACKSON shared  that June 19 was  the anniversary of                                                               
her arrival in Anchorage 40 years ago.                                                                                          
3:43:24 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  MERRICK asked  where it  was outlined  in the  bill that                                                               
Juneteenth would be a paid state holiday.                                                                                       
SENATOR GRAY-JACKSON  replied the bill  adds this holiday  in the                                                               
same  section  of statute  that  designates  other holidays.  She                                                               
directed  attention to  paragraph (6)  on page  1, line  [11] and                                                               
conveyed  that Legislative  Legal said  the bill  correctly makes                                                               
Juneteenth a paid state holiday.                                                                                                
CHAIR KAWASAKI noted the individuals  who were available to opine                                                               
on the question.                                                                                                                
SENATOR MERRICK said she was comfortable with the answer.                                                                       
CHAIR  KAWASAKI asked  Ms.  Odom to  walk  through the  sectional                                                               
3:45:13 PM                                                                                                                    
BESSE   ODOM,   Staff,   Senator   Gray-Jackson,   Alaska   State                                                               
Legislature,  presented  the  sectional  analysis for  SB  22  on                                                               
behalf of the sponsor. It read as follows:                                                                                      
     Section  1. This  section amends  AS 44.12.010(a),  the                                                                  
     Statute  regarding  legal  holidays.  Specifically,  it                                                                    
     requires that  June 19th, known  as Juneteenth  Day, be                                                                    
     considered a legal holiday.                                                                                                
     Section  2.  This  section  amends  AS  44.12.020,  the                                                                  
     statute regarding holidays that  fall on a Sunday, with                                                                    
     conforming  language that  reflects section  1 of  this                                                                    
     Section 3. This section repeals AS 44.12.090                                                                             
3:46:12 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  BJORKMAN  asked if  the  holiday  would apply  to  local                                                               
SENATOR  GRAY-JACKSON replied  it's  already a  paid holiday  for                                                               
federal employees and  were the bill to pass, it  would be a paid                                                               
holiday for state employees.                                                                                                    
SENATOR BJORKMAN said  some federal holidays must be  paid and he                                                               
wondered whether  this would be the  same on the state  level for                                                               
political subunits.                                                                                                             
SENATOR GRAY-JACKSON restated that SB  22 would make Juneteenth a                                                               
paid state holiday [for state employees].                                                                                       
3:47:35 PM                                                                                                                    
At ease                                                                                                                         
3:48:04 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  KAWASAKI reconvened  the  meeting and  asked  Ms. Odom  to                                                               
proceed with the PowerPoint.                                                                                                    
3:48:20 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. ODOM presented a PowerPoint as  further explain of SB 22. She                                                               
paraphrased the following:                                                                                                      
     WHAT IS JUNETEENTH                                                                                                       
        • Also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Emancipation                                                                  
          Day or Liberation Day. The word 'Juneteenth' resulted                                                                 
          from  the   words  'June  Nineteenth'   being  combined                                                               
          together in speech.                                                                                                   
        • Juneteenth is a holiday that celebrates the end of                                                                    
          slavery in the  United States. On June  19, 1865, Union                                                               
          soldiers arrived  to take control of  Texas and enforce                                                               
          the emancipation of slaves in  the state. In Galveston,                                                               
          Texas,  the  newly  freed   slaves  held  large  public                                                               
          celebrations   and  so   laid  the   base  for   future                                                               
          Juneteenth activities.                                                                                                
        •  Juneteenth became a federal holiday last year. It is                                                                 
          now one  of 11  official federal holidays    or  12 for                                                               
          federal  workers  in  the   District  of  Columbia  and                                                               
          surrounding  areas   during  presidential  inauguration                                                               
          years    meaning that  federal workers  get a  paid day                                                               
          off and there's no mail delivery.                                                                                     
     FOLLOWING THE TREND                                                                                                      
        • Texas was the first state to pass legislation                                                                         
          that would require that  Juneteenth be observed as                                                                    
          a state holiday in 1980.  Followed by:                                                                                
                  • Florida (1991)                                                                                              
                  • Oklahoma (1994)                                                                                             
                  • Minnesota (1996)                                                                                            
                  • Delaware (2000)                                                                                             
                  • Idaho (2001)                                                                                                
        • Various companies observe the holiday:                                                                                
                  • Tesla                                                                                                       
                  • Nike                                                                                                        
                  • Target                                                                                                      
                  • NFL                                                                                                         
                  • Lyft                                                                                                        
        • Juneteenth celebrations are also held in other                                                                        
          countries  around   the  world,   including  South                                                                    
          Korea,  Israel,  France,  Guam,  Honduras,  Japan,                                                                    
          Taiwan, and Trinidad and Tobago.                                                                                      
       WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR JUNETEENTH TO BECOME A STATE                                                                     
        • In some states, people employed by the state may                                                                      
          have  a day  off work.  Stores, post  offices, and                                                                    
          other organizations  and businesses are  likely to                                                                    
          be open as  usual, but some may be  closed or have                                                                    
          restricted  opening  hours  in  some  areas.  Many                                                                    
          public transit services operate on their usual                                                                        
          schedule, but there may be some changes.                                                                              
3:51:03 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MERRICK  noted that the  PowerPoint says  that Juneteenth                                                               
would be a  federal holiday and no mail would  be delivered, then                                                               
on the last slide  it says post offices are likely  to be open as                                                               
SENATOR GRAY-JACKSON replied  it's a federal holiday  and mail is                                                               
not delivered.                                                                                                                  
3:51:49 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  CLAMAN said  he  always found  it  interesting that  the                                                               
Union  soldiers went  to Galveston  because is  a small  town and                                                               
Houston is large. But Houston  didn't exist in 1865 and Galveston                                                               
was the major port city for the  Gulf Coast. If one were to visit                                                               
Galveston,  they  would find  a  very  old  town  with a  lot  of                                                               
history. It's the old port city  for that part of Texas, which is                                                               
why the Union soldiers landed there.  He said it's well worth the                                                               
journey  to visit  Galveston for  anybody who's  in that  part of                                                               
3:52:45 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR KAWASAKI  thanked him for  the geographic history  of Texas                                                               
and opened public testimony on SB 22.                                                                                           
3:53:03 PM                                                                                                                    
CELESTE HODGE  GROWDEN, President  and CEO, Alaska  Black Caucus,                                                               
Anchorage,  Alaska, thanked  the  sponsor for  bringing the  bill                                                               
forward. She stated  that the Alaska Black Caucus  is a nonprofit                                                               
formed in  the '70s  to champion  the lives  of Black  people and                                                               
other  people  of  color  in  the  areas  of  health,  economics,                                                               
education,  and  justice.  She  voiced   support  for  SB  22  to                                                               
establish   Juneteenth  as   a  state   holiday  in   Alaska.  It                                                               
commemorates   the  emancipation   of  African   American  slaves                                                               
following the end of the American  Civil War in 1865. In years to                                                               
come Juneteenth  celebrations of Black culture  spread from Texas                                                               
across the South.  Texas again led the way in  1938 with cultural                                                               
festivals and  a formal proclamation of  Juneteenth. Texas passed                                                               
legislation in 1979  to that effect. Both  former President Trump                                                               
and  President  Biden  supported   making  Juneteenth  a  federal                                                               
holiday and President Biden signed the  bill into law on June 19,                                                               
2021. This  federal holiday  is recognized in  all 50  states and                                                               
the District  of Columbia and  21 states  recognize it as  a paid                                                               
state  holiday. The  Alaska  Black Caucus  urges  Alaska to  join                                                               
these states  by passing SB  22. It will  give the needle  a push                                                               
toward equity.                                                                                                                  
3:59:01 PM                                                                                                                    
EDWARD WESLEY, representing self,  Anchorage, Alaska, stated that                                                               
he  was  a  former  president  of the  Anchorage  branch  of  the                                                               
National  Association  for  the  Advancement  of  Colored  People                                                               
(NAACP), and he was speaking in  support of SB 22. He stated that                                                               
at  the  1936   summer  Olympics  in  Berlin   Hitler  sought  to                                                               
demonstrate the greatness  on his nation with a  team of superior                                                               
athletes. However,  Ralph Metcalf and Jessie  Owens, both African                                                               
Americans, stepped  forward and  lifted this nation.  Jesse Owens                                                               
won four gold medals.                                                                                                           
SB  22  acknowledges the  sacrifices  of  African Americans.  Two                                                               
hundred years  of free labor denied  their ancestors generational                                                               
wealth. African  Americans nevertheless made  major contributions                                                               
to  this  nation  that  all  citizens  enjoy  every  day.  George                                                               
Washington Carver's work  in the area of agriculture  is one such                                                               
example.  Despite contributing  to more  than 80  percent of  the                                                               
field  work  done  in agriculture,  African  Americans  were  not                                                               
allowed  to participate  when  Social  Security was  established.                                                               
African Americans  helped build  the ALCAN  Highway, have  been a                                                               
major population  in the military,  calculated the  trajectory to                                                               
the  moon by  hand, and  made major  contributions in  sports and                                                               
MR.  WESLEY concluded  that support  for SB  22 acknowledges  the                                                               
past and  embraces a bright  future of unlimited  possibility. An                                                               
added benefit is  that it will bring more tourists  to this state                                                               
and stimulate economic activity.                                                                                                
4:02:59 PM                                                                                                                    
VIKKI  JO  KENNEDY,  representing self,  Juneau,  Alaska,  stated                                                               
support for  SB 22,  but she  didn't think  public transportation                                                               
should  be  closed,  because  it  is  already  closed  on  enough                                                               
holidays. She pointed out that  in Alaska, it is primarily people                                                               
of color who use public transportation.                                                                                         
4:04:42 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR KAWASAKI  stated that he  would hold public  testimony open                                                               
until the bill is heard a second time.                                                                                          
SENATOR GRAY-JACKSON corrected the  record, stating that Congress                                                               
made Juneteenth a federal holiday  with a bill. It wasn't through                                                               
executive order as she stated earlier.                                                                                          
4:05:59 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR KAWASAKI held SB 26 in committee.                                                                                         

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
SB 22 Sectional Analysis version A.pdf SSTA 2/14/2023 3:30:00 PM
SB 22
SB 22 Sponsor Statement version A.pdf SSTA 2/14/2023 3:30:00 PM
SB 22
SB 22 Supporting Document - What is Juneteenth.pdf SSTA 2/14/2023 3:30:00 PM
SB 22
Draft SC SB 26 B.pdf SSTA 2/14/2023 3:30:00 PM
SB 26
Summary of Changes SCSB 26 version B .pdf SSTA 2/14/2023 3:30:00 PM
SB 26
SB 22 ver A Presentation 1.19.2023.pptx SSTA 2/14/2023 3:30:00 PM
SB 22
SB 22 Letter of Support - Dawn Bundick.pdf SSTA 2/14/2023 3:30:00 PM
SB 22
SB 22 Letter of Support - Ashleigh Gaines.pdf SSTA 2/14/2023 3:30:00 PM
SB 22