Representative Matt Claman's Alaska Matters
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Protecting Your Rights: Serving Sand Lake, Spenard, and Turnagain
November 9, 2017
In this issue:
• Veterans in Alaska
• House Passes Senate Bill 54
• Community Events

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Veterans Day originated as “Armistice Day” on Nov. 11, 1919, the first anniversary of the signing of the armistice between the Allied nations and Germany in 1918, marking the end of World War I. Congress passed a resolution in 1926 for an annual observance, and Nov. 11 became a national holiday beginning in 1938. In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed legislation to change the name to Veterans Day to honor those who served in all American wars.

On Veterans Day, please join me in recognizing the brave men and women who have served our country. Thank you to all veterans and active duty military for your service.

Veterans in Alaska

In Alaska, we have over 68,000 veterans who have dedicated their lives to protecting and serving our country. Roughly 1 in 10 people in Alaska are veterans and nearly half or 47% of veterans living in Alaska served in the Gulf War era. Women account for about 14% of the veteran population in Alaska—a larger share than 48 other states. Only Virginia has the same 14% percent population of female veterans as Alaska. And young veterans, those aged 20 to 34, account for 17% of our veteran population—a larger share than all other states.

House Passes Senate Bill 54 

On Tuesday morning at 1:00 am, the House passed Senate Bill 54. SB 54 was passed and approved by the House after ten days of committee work, over ten hours of public testimony, over 100 amendments offered in committee hearings and on the House floor, and four days of debate.

Last week I described the changes made to SB 54 in the House Judiciary Committee. Here are notable changes made in the version that passed the House:

  • Increased sentencing for petty theft of an item with a value of $250 or less
  • First Offense – Up to five days of jail time (before it was five days suspended)
  • Second Offense – Up to ten days of jail time (before it was five days jail time)
  • Third Offense or More – Up to 15 days jail time (before it was ten days jail time)
  • Increased sentencing for low-level class C felonies
  • First Offense – Up to two years in prison (before it was one year)
  • Second Offense – Two to three years in prison (before it was one to two years)
  • Third Offense or More – Three to five years in prison (before it was two to five years)

Other changes include requiring 25 hours community service of anyone convicted of a crime related to “damage to public or private property” and adding a representative of the Department of Health and Social Services to the Alaska Criminal Justice Commission as a non-voting member.

During the amendment process on the House floor, there was much debate about Criminal Justice Reform, as well as an effort by some members to repeal most provisions approved in Senate Bill 91 (2016). While some want to blame justice reform for the current crime rate, we know that violent crime has been on the rise in Alaska since 1986 and property crime rates have been increasing since 2011—far before Criminal Justice Reform was signed into law in July 2016. And the critics of the 2016 legislation do not address the improvements in probation and parole already reported by the Department of Corrections or the likely improvements to public safety from the pretrial release program that begins in January 2018.

With regard to pretrial release, analysis of 20,000 Alaska cases from 2014-2015 shows that 14% missed their court date and 37% committed new criminal offenses prior to trial. In contrast, states and counties that have implemented actuarial risk assessment programs report only 8% miss a court date and 7-8% commit new offenses. With the risk assessment program designed for Alaska that takes effect in January 2018, Alaska will likely experience a substantial reduction in new criminal offenses committed by individuals awaiting trial.

In his recent publication entitled Crime Rates and Alaska Criminal Justice Reform, Brad Myrstol, interim Justice Center director and director of the Alaska Statistical Analysis Center and Alaska Justice Information Center (AJiC), provided research on the question of whether changes under SB 91 are having an impact on current crime rates. Myrstol states, “looking at historical crime rates in Anchorage from 1985–2016 for shoplifting, burglaries, motor vehicle thefts, and larceny thefts, 2016 rates are neither the highest nor lowest over the last 30 years,” and that justice reform cannot be definitively tied to an increase in crime.

Due to the short period during which reforms have been in effect, it will take some time before we can accurately measure the full impact of justice reform on Alaska’s criminal justice system. Additionally, we’ve heard from public safety related departments and stakeholders that a complete overhaul of justice reform is dangerousand would not improve public safety.

The goal of Criminal Justice Reform is to improve public safety through reduced recidivism, and not all recidivism-reducing measures have gone into effect. On January 1, 2018 the new pretrial services program, aimed at increasing supervision of those awaiting trial, will come online. If you’d like to listen to my remarks about the program made on the House floor, click here.

Senate Bill 54 is a positive step in the right direction to improving public safety. It upholds our commitment to be tough on violent crime, smart on spending, and to improve public safety. Justice reform is a process that we will continue to assess and adjust as we move forward.

Senate Bill 54 now goes to the Senate for a concurrence vote.

Community Events

Mark your calendar for these upcoming events:

2017 Anchorage Startup Weekend

The 2017 Anchorage Startup Weekend is part of a yearlong cycle of events that connect you to opportunities, investors and good friends that will be come your co-founders. This weekend event comes at the start of the Global Entrepreneurship Week. In past years, teams have gone on to win Alaska and national awards, launch their businesses, and learn about innovation and the Alaskan startup community. No ideas are needed, just a passion for creating customer value and learning about lean entrepreneurship tools for rapid business model iteration.

When: Friday, November 10th from 6 pm – 10 pm

Saturday, November 11th from 9 am – 10 pm

Sunday, November 12th from 9 am – 9 pm

Where: The Boardroom, 601 W. 5th Avenue, Suite 200

For event details and tickets, visit

Or visit the Facebook event page to RSVP.

Anchorage Symphony’s “Veterans Day Salute”

For event details and tickets, visit

Anchorage Non-motorized Plan – Community Workshop #1

The purpose of the Anchorage Non-motorized Plan is to examine the opportunities to increase and expand multi-modal facilities, for both recreation and transportation, throughout the city of Anchorage, Alaska. The plan will consider future land use developments, major origins and destinations within the City, along with current and proposed pedestrian, bicycle and trail networks to create an interconnected multi-modal system for Anchorage residents.

Join AMATS for the Non-motorized Plan Community Workshop #1: Vision & Goals on Anchorage’s Non-Motorized Plan for Pedestrian, Bike & Trail Infrastructure.

When: Saturday, November 18th

Bike Tour from 10:30 am – 12 pm

Community Workshop & Open House from 12 pm – 2 pm

Walk Audit from 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm

Where: Mosely Sports Center, Alaska pacific University Campus

For event details, visit

Or visit the Facebook event page to RSVP.

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

State Capitol Bldg. Rm 405
Juneau, Alaska 99801

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 Info (907) 269-5111

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

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