Representative Matt Claman's Alaska Matters
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Protecting Your Rights: Serving Sand Lake, Spenard, and Turnagain
November 22, 2017
In this issue:
• Ways to Give Back
• End of the Fourth Special Session
• 50-State Summit on Public Safety
• Community Events

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Happy Thanksgiving! As we congregate with friends, family, and good food, let’s remind one another of all we have to be grateful for. May we also be mindful of those in need and take time to share a smile and lend a helping hand.

Ways to Give Back this Holiday Season

Bean’s Cafe

Beanie Boxes

For more information, visit https://www.beanscafe.org/events/beanie-boxes/.

Food Bank of Alaska

#GivingTuesday is a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration. Celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Help Food bank of Alaska meet their $10,000 goal by making a gift. Click here to donate.

For more information, visit the Facebook event page.

End of the Fourth Special Session

On the 19th day of the 30 day special session, the Senate concurred with the House changes to Senate Bill 54 and adjourned sine die after learning the bill had constitutional issues. Even though Governor Walker called the fourth special session to address both new revenue to help solve Alaska’s financial challenges and improving public safety, the legislature took no action on new revenue. While the House passed a new revenue measure in the first 90 days of the regular session, in April; the Senate held only one hearing on the Governor’s proposed wage tax during the fourth special session and adjourned with eleven days remaining.

Alaskans are frustrated with the Senate’s inaction on a responsible action plan for Alaska. While there are different opinions on the best solution, Alaskans agree that we need to do something more.

Rather than address both issues on the special session call, the fourth special session focused on public safety. Over the course of over two weeks of hearings, the House adopted over 30 amendments to the Senate’s version of the fourth criminal justice reform bill since 2014. One amendment approved on the House floor—but never considered by the House Judiciary Committee or the House Finance Committee—made changes to the sentencing range for first-time class C felony offenders. According to testimony from the Attorney General’s office, the Public Defender, and legislative attorneys, the amendment may be unconstitutional. Rather than appoint a conference committee to work out differences between the House version and the Senate version, the Senate chose to let the court system resolve any constitutional issues. The appointment of a conference committee would have given both bodies the opportunity to quickly address these legal concerns.

Our commitment to improving public safety will continue as we work to address Alaska’s financial challenges. The criminal justice reform process, which has already resulted in the legislature passing four bills (SB 64 in 2014, SB 91 in 2016, SB 55 in 2017, and SB 54 in 2017), recognizes that Alaska was spending more and more money on prisons at the same time that crime was rising. Faced with doing the same thing over and over again, hoping for a better result, and building another prison; Alaskans chose to find innovative ways to control the growth of government spending and improve public safety. Improvements to probation and parole supervision are already showing better results; adjustments to sentences for non-violent, first-time offenders have saved money and focused prison resources on violent, repeat offenders; and the new pre-trial supervision program that begins in January 2018 should further improve public safety. During the special session, we learned that Alaskans are hurting from the budget cuts to prosecutors and State Troopers. I am committed to increasing support for both the Department of Law and the Department of Public Safety when we return to Juneau in January. Passage of SB 54 means Alaska will continue our work for smart spending and improving public safety.

Alaskans deserve improved public safety, economic certainty, and a sustainable path for the future. As we prepare for the start of session in January, I remain committed to a responsible action plan that puts Alaska first!

50-State Summit on Public Safety

Last week, I joined corrections directors, state legislators, law enforcement officials, and behavioral health professionals from all 50 states at The 50-State Summit on Public Safety in Washington, D.C.

The two-day summit, organized by The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center in partnership with the Association of State Correctional Administrators (ASCA), served as an opportunity for state delegates to join experts from across the country to examine and discuss state trends in crime, arrests, corrections populations, addiction and mental health. Ultimately, the summit sought to identify and advance integrated approaches to addressing states’ unique challenges to improve public safety.

Addressing public safety also means addressing the opioid crisis. We learned that the increase in drug overdose deaths compared to homicides has dramatically increased since 1999. The chart below compares overdose deaths with homicides since 1999:

The chart below compares overdose deaths with homicides since 1999
(Image Credit: CSG Justice Center) 

Nationwide, there were 175 overdose deaths per day in 2016, and this rate is probably increasing in 2017. This overdose rate is a reminder of the need to address the opioid crisis in Alaska as well as every state in the nation.

Throughout the conference, we learned that all 50 states are working on innovative solutions to the same challenges facing Alaska: wise use of state resources and improving public safety. Each of the 50 state teams that attended the event were led by their respective state corrections administrators and included a state legislator, a law enforcement official, and a local behavioral health professional. Participants at the event—which featured 35 behavioral health directors, 15 chiefs of police, 12 sheriffs, and 41 state legislators—received state-specific workbooks developed through interviews conducted by the CSG Justice Center. The individual state data includes trends in crime, arrests, recidivism, correctional populations, and behavioral health in each state, as well as case studies and examples of lessons learned.

State teams emerged from the summit with innovative strategies for reducing crime and recidivism, improving outcomes for people with mental health and substance use disorders, and reducing spending on prisons and jails.

Community Events

Mark your calendar for these upcoming events:

Shop Small Saturday

On the 25th of November, Downtown Anchorage is participating in Shop Small Business Saturday, a nationwide event put on by American Express to promote shopping at local small businesses!

Shop Local

This year's activities include:

Coupon Tote Bags; 11/24, 4:15 pm – 7:30 pm (Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony)
Scavenger Hunt; 11/25, 11 am – 6 pm
Sip & Shop Local Arts Market; 11/25, 1 pm – 5 pm
Shop Small Saturday Specials; 11/25, All-Day
For event details, visit https://anchoragedowntown.org/events/shop-small-saturday/.
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

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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