"This event is the culmination of over a year's work by many lawmakers to ensure that Alaska's families are protected and show that the government is committed to providing the best possible services to Alaska's children and doing its part to preserve Alaskan families."
- Rep. Coghill
(FAIRBANKS) - Landmark legislation crafted by Representative John Coghill (R-North Pole) was signed into law earlier today by Governor Frank Murkowski at a ceremony at Stevie's Place in Fairbanks.
"This event is the culmination of over a year's work by many lawmakers to ensure that Alaska's families are protected and show that the government is committed to providing the best possible services to Alaska's children and doing its part to preserve Alaskan families," said Representative Coghill.
The Child in Need of Aid (CINA) legislation began as an omnibus bill encompassing legislation sponsored by Representatives Coghill and Norman Rokeberg (R-Anchorage) and Governor Frank Murkowski.
"HB 53 is the most important bill of this legislative session," said Representative Rokeberg. "This legislation demonstrates what can be done when the governor and legislature work together for the best interest of Alaska's children, parents and grandparents. While no legislation can correct the personal tragedies that have occurred, I am confident that this legislation will help to avoid similar situations in the future. I am particularly pleased that the law will now give greater priority to relatives when children are placed in long-term living situations."
Provisions in the new law include opening CINA proceedings to the public, creation of a statutory grievance process and state review panel, increased use of Child Advocacy Centers, such as Stevie's Place, and mandatory videotaping of interviews involving sexual abuse victims, and creation of a statute for voluntary relinquishment of parental rights.
In addition to HB 53, Governor Murkowski signed two additional bills sponsored by Representative Coghill. HB 91, legislation making repeat convictions of indecent exposure within the observation of a person under sixteen years of age a felony, and HB 181, legislation that prevents professional licensees from losing their license because of failure to fulfill statutory requirements for continuing education while serving on active duty.
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"HB 53 is the most important bill of this legislative session."