Alaska history requirement fails to pass

Posted: Sunday, May 12, 2002

JUNEAU (AP) -- An attempt to require Alaska history as a graduation requirement failed in the Legislature on Saturday.

A bill requiring Alaska history passed the House unanimously in February, but Sen. Lyda Green, R-Wasilla, has not held a hearing on the measure in the Senate Health Education and Social Services Committee.

The House had earlier tried to force the Senate to act on the measure by adding it to an unrelated bill that had already passed the Senate.

Senate Bill 11 was aimed at ensuring that parents who enroll their kids in school earlier than is required by law don't pull them out willy-nilly, in effect using schools as a day care. It was sponsored by Sen. Gene Therriault, R-North Pole.

The Senate rejected the addition of the history bill to Therriault's bill, so the measure went to a House-Senate conference committee.

The conference committee settled on a version of Senate Bill 11 that did not include the history requirement.

Conference committee member Rep. Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, said he supported the history requirement. But Stevens said Therriault was willing to let the attendance bill die rather than have the history bill attached to it.

Therriault has said the history requirement is an unfunded mandate for schools, and the decision should be left to local school districts.

Stevens said it was better to have the attendance bill by itself than to have neither bill.

Rep. John Davies, D-Fairbanks, argued that the history bill was more important than the other measure. He and other supporters said Alaskans need to know more about the origin of the issues Alaska is currently facing.

Rep. Mary Kapsner, D-Bethel, had sponsored the history bill.

The House voted 22-16 and the Senate voted 12-8 to accept the attendance bill without the history requirement. The Alaska history bill is House Bill 171.

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