Tag Archives: lora reinbold

Reinbold’s bill adds transparency to regulatory process

I’ve been known to be hard on Rep. Lora Reinbold, a Republican from Eagle River, but I do want to give credit where credit is due. HB 140, which Reinbold sponsored, passed the House on Monday. All 37 House members present voted for the bill. It’s a good bill.

Hundreds of regulations are enacted each year by the State of Alaska that greatly affect businesses and private individuals, who are often taken off guard, have no idea how and why they originated and how they can speak out about them. The bill puts more transparency into the process by changing the Alaska Administrative Code. As it is now, an agency proposing a regulation must estimate the cost to the agency itself. This bill, if it becomes law, will also require state agencies who propose a regulation to estimate cost to individuals and to businesses, to justify the reason for the regulation and who, exactly, proposed it.

Finally, when federal law is given as a justification for a regulation, the exact federal law, executive order or decision now needs to be identified.

Reinbold introduced the bill last year and has been working hard to pass it since. She gathered letters from across the state, she compromised and got bipartisan support.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


State board rules gay partners are ‘family’ over objection of Rep. Lora Reinbold

gay rights State of Alaska employees who are in same sex relationships will now be able to take leave due to a serious health condition of a same-sex partner. Like employees in heterosexual relationships, gay partners of state employees will now be defined as “immediate family,” the state personnel board decided on Thursday.

The rule goes into effect Oct. 16 19.

Gay marriage is constitutionally banned in Alaska. However, in 2005, the Alaska Supreme Court ruled that because of the prohibition, it was unconstitutional to deny gay couples benefits that the state provides to heterosexual couples.

The state has mostly complied with the order. But it took the ACLU of Alaska to write a letter on behalf of a corrections officer to bring this to the court-ordered standard.

No matter that the state was complying with a Supreme Court decision, this issue still wrought controversy.

Alaska state Rep. Lora Reinbold, a Republican from Eagle River and chair of the Administrative Review Committee, wrote a letter to the board, urging it to delay voting on the issue. She said that the decision would be giving “special privileges to individuals who have in fact made a Life-Style Choice.” It’s a choice, she asserts, that has “no legal standing;” however, she provides no supporting documentation. She appears either unaware of the Supreme Court decision or chooses to disregard it.

She also wrote that calling gay couples “family” is “not in keeping with my interpretation of statue or the legislative intent.”

The State of Alaska Personnel Board is a three member board appointed by the governor and approved by the Legislature, which does not oversee the board.

Others wrote in support of the decision. A local medical doctor wrote that the Alaska Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Psychiatric Association and the American Academy of Pediatricians all have stated that equal rights for same sex partners and their families “create a more healthy family environment.”

Another wrote that her partner of 13 years has breast cancer, and that this proposal is “not giving any special rights but an equal right to all employees.”

In 2006, Gov. Sarah Palin vetoed a bill that would have prohibited the state from adopting the court-ordered, same-sex regulations. The law was unconstitutional, she said.

Palin is against same sex marriage. However, she said that “signing his bill would be in direct violation of my oath of office.”

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


Healthcare hearing leaves things unsaid

Alaska state Rep. Lora Reinbold, who chairs the Administrative Regulation Review Committee, held an interesting if unbalanced hearing on the effect the Affordable Care Act, or ObamaCare, is going to have on Alaska.

“Is Obamacare the best or worst thing to happen to the U.S.? That’s what our hearing is about; we want to learn the facts and clarify what is currently known about the program’s effects in Alaska,” she wrote in a press release announcing the hearing, two days before it was held.

Reinbold, a Republican from Eagle River, is not a supporter of the Affordable Care Act, and is a cosponsor of a joint legislative resolution to call on Congress to delay the implementation of the act.

Those testifying, all invited by the committee chair, included Deborah Erickson, the executive director of Alaska’s Health Care Commission, Jeff Davis who is president of Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alaska, Division of Insurance Director Bret Kolb.

Dr. Ilona Farr, who is a primary care physician and who has been one of the state’s most vocal opponents of the ACA, also testified. She was the only health care provider who did so.

Alaska has the third highest cost of health care in the world and its citizens pay among the highest premiums rates for insurance in the country. At about 120,000 uninsured Alaskans, the state has among the highest rates of uninsured per capita in the country.

The committee didn’t invite patient advocates or anybody from the Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association, or any of their members including Providence Hospital or Fairbanks Memorial Hospital.

Nobody from the public testified.

With the absence of those voices, it was difficult to get a balanced perspective on the Act and how it will affect such people and institutions, say nothing of what it would do to such people and institutions if Gov. Sean Parnell declines to accept federal dollars to expand Medicaid.

It was a topic that those presenting only touched on, which was also surprising given that it is one of the few things about the Act in which the state has a voice.

In the other major area that the state could have had say—health exchanges—Parnell  ceded the state’s voice and has allowed the feds to build Alaska’s exchange, which is supposed to be up and running by September. (Read more about exchanges here.)

The major take-away from the hearing, based on those testifying, was that health care costs are going to rise under the Act.

Farr, as she has done in the past, also spent much of her time talking about the negative impact that onerous regulations were going to have on doctors.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com