New York Trip
Last weekend, I attended a ceremony in New York City honoring my late Uncle, Officer David Guttenberg. He was a decorated police officer who gave his life in the line of duty. A street was officially renamed after him to honor his sacrifice.
My uncle’s memory was one of the reasons that I supported HB 23, a bill passed last Spring that extends benefits to surviving dependants of Alaskan peace officers and firefighters who die in the line of duty.
As we start the fourth special session now focused on criminal justice reform and revenue, my uncle’s legacy will once again motivate me to work hard to keep you and the state safe.
Special Session: Crime and Budget
Some members of the House minority have been quick to blame SB 91 as the sole cause of increasing crime rates. The reality is that there are many contributing factors- an opioid crisis, a lingering recession and unsustainable budget cuts that have resulted in a dwindling police force and an insufficient number of prosecutors, have all contributed to the rise in crime.
SB 91 aimed to address recidivism through substance abuse treatment and rehabilitation. This approach was modeled after successful policies implemented across the country. Unfortunately, our budget crisis has made it difficult to allocate the funds necessary to properly implement provisions that will create the positive results seen from criminal justice reforms in other states. I look forward to considering adjustments that will help improve SB91, but at the end of the day, it really does come back to our fiscal challenges.
It is unrealistic to expect agencies to address higher crime rates with less resources. We need to invest in our agencies to ensure a safer Alaska. To do this, we need a sustainable, comprehensive fiscal plan which includes increased revenue.
During this special session we will also be looking at ways to close Alaska’s fiscal gap. As you know, the Alaska House Majority passed out a comprehensive fiscal plan during the regular session but the Senate majority and House minority rejected it. While it is frustrating that we must go through another special session, I am hoping my colleagues from the Senate Majority and House minority will see the harm that doing nothing has caused, and come to the table ready to discuss meaningful solutions.
Public Testimony on SB54
The House Judiciary Committee will be taking public testimony on Senate Bill 54, the crime bill before the Legislature during this special session this evening from 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, October 24. The call in number is 844-586-9085. You can also go to the Fairbanks LIO (1292 Sadler Way, Suite 308) to provide public testimony. This may be your last chance to call in and make your voice heard on this bill!
State Ombudsman in Fairbanks
If you’ve ever encountered a problem with a State agency and were unsure where to go, know that there’s an office exactly for that; the State Ombudsman’s office. They investigate citizen complaints, find solutions to problems, and help connect Alaskans to useful resources. The Ombudsman is always available by phone but their only physical offices are located in Juneau and Anchorage. To increase accessibility, the Ombudsman will be taking complaints and providing information at the Fairbanks Legislative Information Office (1292 Sadler Way, Suite 308) this Wednesday, October 25th from 1:00-3:00pm. Appointments are not necessary, please call 269-5290 for more information.
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