Protecting Your Rights: Serving Sand Lake, Spenard, and Turnagain
March 16, 2018
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The operating budget is coming along and under consideration by the full House soon. While we strive for a responsible action plan for Alaska, we are also considering legislation related to public safety and reducing gun violence.
House Bill 75: Gun Violence Protective Order Bill
Over the past few weeks, the House Judiciary Committee has heard and is considering Representative Tarr’s House Bill 75: Gun Violence Protective Orders. The legislation protective orders—similar to domestic violence protective orders—to temporarily remove guns from individuals that a court finds have a heightened risk of endangering themselves or others. The bill creates three types of Gun Violence Protective Orders (GVPOs): an Emergency GVPO that expires in 72 hours, an Ex Parte GVPO that expires in 20 days, and a general GVPO that lasts for six months. The House Judiciary Committee heard public testimony at three hearings, and a substantial majority of those who testified about HB 75 support the bill (52 in favor, and 7 opposed).
Several states have adopted similar systems, including Connecticut (enacted in 1999), Indiana (2005), California (2014), Washington (2016), and Oregon (2017). Following the recent tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Florida adopted a gun violence protective order law last week. At least 19 state legislatures (including Alaska) have introduced similar legislation this year.
Momentum for GVPO laws is also growing in Washington D.C. In a meeting with legislators on February 28, Vice President Pence spoke favorably about Indiana’s law—the Vice President was Governor of Indiana from 2013-2017. Both the Vice President and the President expressed their support for Rep. Carbajal's Gun Violence Restraining Order Act, HR. 2598. President Trump also voiced support for confiscating guns from certain individuals deemed to be dangerous, even if it may raise due process concerns, tweeting: “Take the guns first, go through due process second.”
The Indiana law, which the Indiana courts ruled is constitutional, allows police to seize weapons from a dangerous individual without a warrant. In that situation, the officer is required to submit a written statement to the court describing why he or she believes the person is dangerous. If a judge finds that probable cause exists that the person is dangerous, the law enforcement agency can retain custody of the guns. If not, the police return the firearms to the person. As currently proposed, Alaska’s HB 75 does not include a provision allowing for warrantless seizure.
The House Judiciary Committee will continue hearing HB 75 next week.
Juneau High School Students Protest Inaction on Gun Violence in Schools
On Wednesday morning, Juneau high school students took part in the national walkout calling for action on gun violence. I attended the rally on the steps of the capitol and listened as over 100 students asked the legislature to break the long pattern of legislative inaction about gun violence and to take action to improve their safety.
House Bill 312: Crimes Against Medical Professionals
Improving public safety remains one of my top priorities. I am working with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to achieve this common goal. In January, I partnered with Representative Kopp (R-Anchorage) to introduce House Bill 312: Crimes Against Medical Professionals, which will help reduce workplace violence against medical professionals in health care facilities. The bill allows police to make an arrest in a health care facility without a warrant for fourth degree assault and adds an aggravating factor at sentencing that would permit judges to increase sentences for people who commit crimes against medical professionals. The bill has gained wide support, passing the House by a vote of 31-1, and is now making its way through the Senate.
The Senate Judiciary Committee will hear public testimony on the bill on Monday, March 19.
Vote By Mail—Anchorage
Starting this year, we will all vote by mail in the Anchorage Municipal Election. Anchorage will no longer operate traditional polling locations. Instead, the Municipality will mail a ballot package to qualified registered voters 21 days before Election Day. The Municipality mailed the ballots earlier this week.
With the new Vote By Mail system, voters may study the ballot with trusted resources, mark their choices, sign the voter declaration, and return their ballot. Registered voters can submit votes in three easy steps:
When: Ballots can be filled out and postmarked or dropped off any time before 8 PM on April 3rd.
Visit Municipality’s Vote By Mail page for more information.
Mark your calendar for these upcoming events:
Shamrock Shuffle 5K
Start your St. Patrick’s day the right way with the Shamrock Shuffle 5K. For seven years, Alaskans have been dressing in green and getting outdoors in honor of the holiday. As luck would have it this year's run falls on Saint Patrick's Day, which won’t happen again until 2029. Put on your best green costume and join the fun. Come to participate yourself or to cheer on the runners.
Tickets and more information are available online.
When: Saturday, March 17th from 9:30 AM – 1:30 PM