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Juneau – Sunday, House Bill 147 passed the Alaska Senate by a unanimous vote. Earlier this month, the bill passed the Alaska House of Representatives, also by a unanimous vote. The bill was the brainchild of the late Rep. Max Gruenberg who passed away suddenly in February at the age of 72 while still in office. Rep. Liz Vazquez (R-Anchorage) sponsored HB 147, which does several things including allowing the well-being of pets to be considered by courts in divorce proceedings. Rep. Ivy Spohnholz (D-Anchorage) was appointed to the District 16 seat held by Rep. Gruenberg and she quickly became a co-sponsor of HB 147.
“Representative Gruenberg was many things, a lawyer, a lawmaker, a jokester, a veteran, and an animal lover. It took a man of his significance to help this little bill to become law,” said Rep. Spohnholz. “This bill was commonly called Max’s pet bill and at its heart the bill seeks to protect the dogs, cats, and other animals that mean so much to so many of us.”
Besides the provision of the bill dealing with divorce and dissolution proceedings, it also creates statutory protections for animals in protective orders and allows a court to grant temporary custody of a pet to the victim seeking protection. HB 147 also holds a pet owner responsible for the costs of caring for an animal that is seized due to cruelty or neglect.
“On behalf of the Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition, I want to thank Rep. Vazquez for her leadership in guiding HB 147 through the legislative process. I also want to thank every member of the House and Senate for thoughtfully considering the bill and coming to the same conclusion that I often came to when Max was the Coalition Whip, Max was right,” said Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition Leader Rep. Chris Tuck (D-Anchorage).
House Bill 147 will be sent to Governor Bill Walker for his signature.