On June 29, Governor Dunleavy put his signature on a bill I sponsored to transfer the Alaska Court Visitor Program from the Office of Public Advocacy to the Alaska Court System. It’s always gratifying when a bill gets signed into law but this one is special because it’s my final passed bill. If you have not yet heard, I am not running for re-election this year.
Before the passage of House Bill 155
, Court Visitors were paid and managed by the Office of Public Advocacy even though they work for and report to the Court System. This flaw in state law was confusing and hampering the important work Court Visitors do on behalf of vulnerable individuals in Alaska.
Court Visitors conduct independent investigations and make recommendations to the Alaska Court System on whether guardianships or conservatorships are necessary. Guardianships are used to protect individuals who cannot care for their well-being due to incapacity or disability. Conservatorships are used to manage an impaired person or minor’s financial and personal affairs. Court Visitors in Alaska also participate in psychotropic medication proceedings during involuntary commitments to investigate whether the patient can give or withhold consent.
I worked with the Office of Public Advocacy
and the Alaska Court System to craft a piece of legislation to fix the flaw in state law and ensure that the good work of Alaska’s Court Visitors is not hindered in any way. In the end, House Bill 155 passed the House and Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support and Governor Dunleavy signed the bill into law on June 29.
There are a lot of people who deserve thanks for the successful passage of HB 155, but I want to especially thank James Stinson and Doug Wooliver for their invaluable help in guiding the bill through a lengthy legislative process filled with questions and last-minute hearings. James Stinson is the Director of the Office of Public Advocacy and Doug Wooliver is the Deputy Administrative Director for the Alaska Court System. Both organizations supported the bill and worked closely with my office throughout the process.
Finally, I want to say thank you to the hard-working Court Visitors in Alaska. The work you do is important, and I hope that House Bill 155 becoming law can help in a small way.
I’m here for you. I welcome your input and ideas. Call my office at (907) 465-2095 or send an email to Rep.Chris.Tuck@akleg.gov