Alaska in Brief

Alaska Senate approves ‘textbook’ consumer protection law affecting UA students

By: - May 5, 2023 4:22 pm

Sen. Robert Myers, R-North Pole, speaks in favor of Senate Bill 13 on Friday, May 5, 2023. (Photo by James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)

Under legislation newly approved by the Alaska Senate, the University of Alaska will be required to warn students if a class requires expensive textbooks.

Senate Bill 13 passed the Senate on a 19-1 vote and now advances to the House for consideration.

Sen. Robert Myers, R-North Pole and the bill’s sponsor, punningly called it “a textbook example of a consumer protection bill.”

If enacted, the bill will require the University of Alaska to add labels to its course catalog saying whether a class’s textbooks and other material are “high cost,” “low cost” or “zero cost.”

Myers said the bill is modeled on similar legislation adopted by Maryland in 2020 and will help students shop for cheaper classes, if wanted.

The bill is supported by the student associations at the University of Alaska Anchorage and the University of Alaska Fairbanks, but the university system itself has taken no position on the bill.

Chad Hutchison, director of university relations for the university system, said the university is already planning to include something similar in a $20 million program to upgrade “student-facing IT.”

That project should be done by 2026, he said.


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James Brooks
James Brooks

James Brooks is a longtime Alaska reporter, having previously worked at the Anchorage Daily News, Juneau Empire, Kodiak Mirror and Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. A graduate of Virginia Tech, he is married to Caitlyn Ellis, owns a house in Juneau and has a small sled dog named Barley. He can be contacted at [email protected]