The Alaska House of Representatives passed a wide-ranging revision to the state’s criminal justice laws on Wednesday.
Rep. Tammie Wilson, a North Pole Republican, supported the bill.
“What you have before you is a bill that repeals and replaces the harmful provisions of SB 91,” she said. “We’ve heard from Alaskans, from our constituents, that they’ve had enough.”
The bill would increase sentences for some sex and drug offenses. It also would ensure more rape kits are tested. And it would require that people who move to Alaska be registered as sex offenders if they’re registered in other states.
All but one minority-caucus Republican opposed the bill: Minority leader Rep. Lance Pruitt voted against it. He said it wouldn’t go far enough to repeal SB 91.
“The people did not ask us to come back here and to try to give them the image that we cared and we had heard,” he said. “They asked us to come back here and fix the problem.”
But overall, the legislation had support from the majority caucus, which has 15 Democrats, seven Republicans and two independents.
Anchorage Democratic Rep. Matt Claman said the bill is balanced, by increasing penalties but leaving funding for drug offenders to get treatment.
“This bill, I believe, strikes the very kind of balance that the public has asked us to do when we come down here — to find a balance between getting tougher on sentences, but not getting so tough that we take out the potential resources to help people who really need treatment for their addictions,” Claman said.
The House passed the bill by a 24-14 vote. One majority caucus member, Fairbanks Democrat Grier Hopkins, voted against it. One minority caucus member, Nikiski Republican Ben Carpenter, voted for it. Anchorage Republican Gabrielle LeDoux, who recently left the House majority, also voted for it. Big Lake Republican Mark Neuman and Anchorage Democrat Chris Tuck were absent.
Dunleavy said Monday the bill points the state in the right direction. He expressed concern that amendments would “water this bill down.”
The House amended the bill to reduce some of the increased penalties in the bill. But amendment sponsors said Dunleavy’s administration cooperated on the changes.
The bill now heads to the Senate.
Watch the latest legislative coverage from Gavel Alaska:
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- In a declaration Wednesday, Gov. Mike Dunleavy amended his call for the second special session to have it take place in Juneau, rather than his original choice: Wasilla.
- The university’s previous rating of A1 has been dropped three notches to BAA1. The lower rating means it will be more expensive for the university to borrow money for various projects.
- It’s 3,200 miles from Joe Balash’s office in Washington, D.C., to the Neets’aii Gwich’in community of Arctic Village. But Arctic Village is barely 200 miles from North Pole, the Alaska town where Balash grew up.