Personal info to stay that way

Posted: Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Personal information Alaskans are required to supply on their Alaska Permanent Fund dividend applications will be kept confidential by state law, providing Gov. Frank Murkowski signs a bill recently passed by the Legislature.

Senate Bill 284, sponsored by Sen. Gretchen Guess, D-Anchorage, restricts release of application information other than one's name.

In addition, the bill also allows Alaskans to keep much of the information on their voter registration records private, including residential addresses, if they provide a different mailing address.

"People should not have to choose between a permanent fund dividend and their personal privacy," Guess said in a press release Sunday. "For example, to a victim of a violent crime, disclosing this information could be a potentially terrifying and life-threatening mistake."

SB 284 has been sent to the governor for his signature.

Meanwhile, House Bill 260, a measure sponsored by Rep. Paul Seaton, R-Homer, that would grant immunity from malpractice liability to physicians and other healthcare workers providing free health services, was among several bills awaiting House floor action Monday.

The House must approve changes added in the version passed by the Senate on May 7. The bill was expected to get a House vote Monday or today.

The bill creates the Volunteer Health Care Provide Immunity Act of 2004. It recognizes that many of the state's most experienced doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals will be retiring in the next decade. Their experience could continue to benefit all Alaskans if they were to volunteer their services after retirement.

However, because many of them would be expected not to maintain costly malpractice insurance, they might be unable to offer their services.

Seaton's bill provides protection for those professionals from civil liability in cases other than those involving gross negligence or reckless or intentional misconduct.

The bill covers doctors, nurses, assistants, dentists and other dental trades, osteopaths, optometrists, chiropractors, midwives, naturopaths, various therapists, psychologists and licensed clinical social workers, among others.

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