Representative Matt Claman's Alaska Matters
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Protecting Your Rights: Serving Sand Lake, Spenard, and Turnagain
November 1, 2017
In this issue:
• Criminal Justice Reform
• Senate Bill 54
• Addressing Revenue - House Bill 4001
• Governor Walker’s Public Safety
    Action Plan
• Community Events

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Thank you to all who attended the West Anchorage Town Hall & Resource Fair on the 19th. Representative Jason Grenn and I enjoyed meeting with all of the community members who attended to share their thoughts and concerns with us. Public safety will always be a priority for Alaska and I look forward to working with West Anchorage neighbors and the law enforcement community for smart solutions.

Criminal Justice Reform

In July 2016, following a two-year process of data analysis, stakeholder meetings, public hearings, policy development and legislative scrutiny, the Alaska Legislature passed and Governor Bill Walker signed into law Senate Bill 91 (SB 91), the Omnibus Criminal Law, Procedure and Corrections Act.

Beginning in 2014, the state faced a rapidly growing prison population and corrections budget as well as persistently high recidivism rates – nearly two out of every three people released from Alaska prisons returned within three years. Following lessons learned from successful criminal justice reform efforts in other states, as well as the best available research and analysis, Alaska developed a comprehensive plan to help the state improve public safety in a more cost-effective manner.

Criminal justice reform is a multiyear process involving numerous state agencies and nonprofit partners. The initial legislation will be “rolled out” in three phases:

  • July 2016: Sentencing reforms go into effect; reinvestment begins
    • Focus Prison Beds on Serious and Violent Offenders
    • Reinvest in Programs Proven to Reduce Recidivism and Protect Public Safety
  • January 2017: Community supervision and parole policies go into effect
    • Strengthen Probation and Parole Supervision
  • January 2018: Pretrial reforms go into effect
    • Implement Evidence-Based Pretrial Practices so that people who do not pose a threat to the public do not sit in jail before conviction of a crime

Today, not all of justice reform has gone into effect. Other reforms – particularly the reinvestment efforts and improvements to reentry and community supervision practices designed to reduce recidivism – will take time to show results. It will take years before the full impact of justice reform on Alaska’s criminal justice system can be fully measured.

As justice reform moves forward, Alaska is expected to reinvest $99 million over six years. And we have already reinvested $22 million in the first two years. If things continue advancing as planned, by the end of FY19, a total of $39.3 million will have been reinvested in community programs, treatment, and victims’ services.

In January 2017, the Alaska Criminal Justice Commission (ACJC) sent the Legislature recommendations to amend SB 91. The recommendations covered a variety of provisions designed to protect the public and make justice reform more effective. The legislature enacted the more technical amendments in Senate Bill 55, which passed in May. The more substantive amendments were contained in Senate Bill 54, which passed the Senate earlier this year.

Senate Bill 54 

Governor Walker placed Senate Bill 54 on the call for the fourth special session. SB 54 makes changes to allow greater flexibility for Alaska judges in sentencing. SB 54 strengthens sentencing of first-time class C felony offenders, strengthens sentencing of repeat class A misdemeanor offenders and petty theft offenders, and adds violating conditions of release as a crime.

Last week, the House Judiciary Committee began hearings on SB 54. The committee took many hours of public testimony and consulted with experts from the Alaska Criminal Justice Commission, the Department of Corrections, and the Department of Law. After considering 48 amendments, the House Judiciary Committee passed SB 54 out of committee with several changes:

  • Creates repeat offender provisions for Theft 3 and Concealment of Merchandise 3
  • Allows jails to hold people in custody until they are sober
  • Removes administrative parole
  • Increases presumptive sentence for Class A felons who direct conduct at police and first responders
    • This amendment increases the presumptive range for first offenders to 7-11 years from 5-9 years when the victims are law enforcement officers, corrections officers, firefighters, and emergency medical personnel
  • Expands Alcohol Safety Action Program (ASAP) eligibility
    • Expands ASAP eligibility to any misdemeanor charge involving alcohol or a controlled substance

Senate Bill 54 has been referred to the House Finance Committee.

Addressing Revenue – House Bill 4001

In the past few weeks, Governor Walker and the departments related to public safety have confirmed that the cuts to police, troopers, and prosecutors have dramatically impacted public safety across the state.  For example, from FY14 to FY17, the Department of Law lost 22 prosecutors and received a $3.98 million reduction in the Criminal Division budget. Due to these cuts, the capacity to prosecute misdemeanors is down 33% or 6,863 from FY14 and felonies are down 3% or 187.

Addressing Revenue – House Bill 4001
(Image Credit: Department of Law)

If the drawbacks associated with fewer troopers to investigate crimes and fewer prosecutors to try cases has proved anything, it’s that Alaska is hurting and we need to strengthen our public safety resources.

On Thursday, the House Finance Committee heard an overview of HB 4001, Governor Walker’s proposed revenue bill to establish a broad based tax.  HB 4001 would tax wages and net self-employment income at a flat rate of 1.5 percent. The tax due is capped at twice last year’s dividend or $2,200. The tax, and the tax cap, would apply equally to residents and non-residents.  It would be the lowest income tax in the nation and would raise an estimated $320 million in new revenues. The projected revenue is less than half of what is needed to fill the deficit even with a sustainable draw from the Permanent Fund earnings reserve.

While HB 4001 wouldn’t fully close the gap, it is a step toward creating new revenue and eliminating the budget deficit. You can view Tax Division Director Ken Alper’s presentation on HB 4001 here.

Governor Walker’s Public Safety Action Plan

This week, Governor Bill Walker announced the State’s Public Safety Action Plan. To prepare the plan, Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth worked with Commissioners Walt Monegan, Valerie Davidson, and Dean Williams to identify actions the State can take to effectively reverse the crime trend that began in 2011. The departments also reached out to their local, tribal, and federal law enforcement partners for input. The culmination is the Public Safety Action Plan, which provides short-term and long-term steps to improve public safety.

While public safety is a complex and evolving challenge, the Public Safety Action Plan focuses our efforts in four main areas: fairness and efficiency in the criminal justice system, sufficient resources for Alaska’s public safety agencies, improving access to mental health and substance abuse treatment, and addressing the immediate challenges of the opioid epidemic.

A key part of the plan is investing in public safety resources. Notably, for next year, the plans recommends five new prosecutors, including a state-wide drug prosecutor, and more troopers.

To view the complete Public Safety Action Plan, click here.

Community Events

Mark your calendar for these upcoming events:

Community Councils

Spenard Community Council 
When: Wednesday, November 1st at 7:00 pm  
Where: Spenard Recreation Center 
Facebook event page

Turnagain Community Council 
When: Thursday, November 2nd at 7:00 pm  
Where: West/Romig Career Technology Center, First Floor, Room C125 **New Meeting Location
Facebook event page

Sand Lake Community Council 
When: Monday, November 6th at 6:30 pm 
Where: Sand Lake Elementary School, Library Room 
Facebook event page

2040 Metropolitan Transportation Plan (MTP) Transportation Alternatives Public Workshops

The Anchorage Metropolitan Area Transportation Solutions (AMATS) will hold transportation alternatives public workshops to develop the alternatives to be studied in the 2040 Metropolitan Transportation Plan (MTP) for Anchorage Bowl and Chugiak-Eagle River areas.  

2040 Metropolitan Transportation Plan (MTP) Transportation Alternatives Public Workshops

Full event details are available at: www.mtp2040.com. If you can't attend the workshops, sign up to receive the follow-up survey, anticipated to be launched in late November, to provide your feedback on the draft alternatives. 

For more information, contact amatsinfo@muni.org

As always, please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.

signed: Matt Claman

    Rep. Matt Claman

    P.S. follow me on Facebook and Twitter

Contact Information

(907) 465-4919

Rep.Matt.Claman@akleg.gov

State Capitol Bldg. Rm 405
Juneau, Alaska 99801

www.repmattclaman.com

Contact the Governor

550 West 7th Avenue, Suite 1700
Anchorage, AK 99501
T (907) 269-7450 F (907) 269-7461
EMAIL: Governor Bill Walker

STATE of ALASKA
http://alaska.gov/

State Info (907) 269-5111

Serving the Anchorage Neighborhoods of
Sand Lake, Spenard, and Turnagain

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