Sen. Hughes withdraws SB 27 over lawmaker conflict statute

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - Senator Shelley Hughes withdrew a bill, SB 27, on Friday after a legislative ethics committee met on Thursday.

    The bill related to health care insurers, the availability of payment information, an incentive program for lower cost healthcare services and municipal regulation of disclosure of health care services and price information.

    Hughes’ husband is a medical professional and she said, despite the fact his employer's practice would have been harmed rather than helped by the legislation, she needs to be in compliance with HB 44, a law which makes it impossible for legislators to be associated with a bill when there is a family member involved.

    “Because my husband is a provider in a medical clinic [and] despite the fact that my bill would not provide any financial gain for him or even for his employer, I realized the law restricts me from sponsoring this bill,” Hughes stated. “In fact, the law restricts me from discussing any healthcare legislation with anyone in a private meeting.”

    Hughes said she promoted the bill to help Alaskans. She also said Alaska law needs to change so that conflicts which are of a negative impact, rather than of an enriching one, no longer hinder lawmakers.

    “We want our ethics laws to prevent us from serving for purposes of selfish gain, for serving to manipulate the system for our own profit,” Hughes added. “But when the law prevents us from drawing from our own experience, from our own expertise, and from the knowledge that we gain from living with the people we love, it needs to be fixed.”


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