House hears second verse of Flag Song

Posted: Tuesday, January 15, 2002

JUNEAU (AP) -- The Alaska Youth Choir gave the state House a chance to hear -- literally -- one of the bills they'll probably vote on this year.

During opening ceremonies of the House of Representatives, the children's choir chimed out two verses of ''Alaska's Flag,'' instead of one.

Fourteen representatives, including House Speaker Brian Porter, are sponsoring a bill to add the second verse, which honors the contributions of Alaska Natives, to the official state song.

Adoption of the second verse was among more than 100 measures Gov. Tony Knowles' Commission on Tolerance recommended to heal the racial divide between whites and minority groups. The commission was appointed following public outrage last winter over paintball attacks by white teens on Natives in downtown Anchorage.

More sweeping recommendations included new hate crime laws, increased funding for rural schools attended mostly by Natives and an end to the decade-long stalemate over subsistence.

Porter, R-Anchorage, said he didn't know whether the House Republican majority would accept all the commission's recommendations, but members do want to address the racial divide.

''Certainly the intent of the House is to work toward urban-rural respect as opposed to gap,'' Porter said. Having both verses of the song performed Monday seemed like a nice beginning to that pursuit, he said. An aide to Porter arranged the opening day ceremony.

Adding the second verse is not a new idea. Democratic Lt. Gov. Fran Ulmer introduced a bill to do so around 1987, when she was representing Juneau in the House.

The second verse was written by the late Carol Berry Davis, who lived in Juneau. She was disturbed that the original song did not recognize Alaska Natives, Ulmer said.

That time around, the bill passed the House, but died in a Senate committee, Ulmer said.

Senate President Rick Halford said Monday he had no initial objection to adding the verse, but he wanted to listen to a tape of Monday's House floor session to make sure the two verses fit well together.

The bill's first hearing will be 8 a.m. Thursday in the House State Affairs Committee.

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