Rep. Scott Kawasaki

Share on Facebook   October 18, 2017

Public Safety & 4th Special Session

Dear Neighbors,

Public Safety Budget Hearing Recap and Resources

Rep. Kawasaki Chairing Public Safety Budget Hearing. Presenting: Director of Alaska State Troopers, Captain of Anchorage Police Dept, Commander of Village Public Safety Officers.
Rep. Kawasaki Chairing Public Safety Budget Hearing. Presenting: Director of Alaska State Troopers, Captain of Anchorage Police Dept, Commander of Village Public Safety Officers.

Earlier this month, as Chair of the Departments of Public Safety and Corrections budgets for the House Finance Committee, I held hearings to provide the public and legislators the opportunity to learn more about the impact of budget cuts since 2014 on law enforcement and incarceration. My colleague Rep. Jason Grennalso held hearings on the Public Defenders Agency in the Dept of Administration and the Dept of Law for state prosecutors. You can find all presentation materials online here.

The message is clear: budget cuts are unsustainable and hurting the ability for law enforcement agencies to do their jobs. When budget cuts began in 2014, the opioid epidemic began to rise. Law enforcement agencies are struggling to keep up with a increase in non-violent crime.

Alaskans and lawmakers cannot expect agencies to address crime if their budgets are slashed. As the new chair of these budgets in 2017, I held the funding level from last year and helped broker compromise to hire a few more troopers for this year, but this is not the long-term answer. Our state budget is blueprint for Alaska’s values. An essential government service is providing public safety where Alaskans can feel safe in their homes and around town.

When the next year’s budget is presented to the Legislature in December, I expect these issues to continue to be at the top of our list. But first, we go back to Juneau next week to address criminal justice policy.

SB 91 and the Upcoming Special Session

Rep. Kawasaki meeting with Alaska State Troopers
Rep. Kawasaki meeting with Alaska State Troopers

SB 91 was signed into law on July 15, 2016. When it came before the House of Representatives for a final vote on May 5, 2016, I stressed my concerns that the good provisions in the bill won’t have the resources needed to be successful, while other provisions raised red flags we are seeing today. (You can watch my full speech here.)

Like dozens of my colleagues, I voted for SB 91 because I support reducing recidivism and addressing the risks for criminals to reoffend. SB 91 aims to address recidivism through substance abuse treatment and rehabilitation, which is good public policy based on proven practices across the world. It would help Alaskans with addictions and criminal records to get back on their feet and contribute to society in a healthy, productive way. But I’m disappointed the programs have yet to receive the resources they need, and part of that is due to the ongoing fiscal crisis.

I had other concerns about SB 91 when it first passed. Under SB 91, Administrative Parole allows first-time felons to automatically be released after serving just one-quarter of their sentence. I still have deep reservations about letting people out of prison early with no hearing to consider their risk of reoffending. I am still concerned about allowing individuals into a parole system whose caseworkers are already overworked, especially when our halfway houses continue to see offenders walking away and escaping custody, taking up police time and risking the safety of our communities and officers.

Next week, the House will consider SB 54. This bill, as currently written and passed by the Senate last spring, includes provisions that would strengthen sentencing for violations of conditions of release, first-time Class C felonies, reoffenders of petty theft crimes and Class B Misdemeanors, just to name a few. As a member of the House Finance Committee, I look forward to seeing this bill come before me and delve deeper into the details. I want to hear from you and public safety leaders about your ideas to help make Alaska a safe place to live.

If you have any further concerns you’d like to share or questions about these bills, please feel free to contact me anytime. I will continue to be in touch as the Fourth Special Session gets under way.

Working Hard for Fairbanks Families,

[SIGNED]

Representative Scott Kawasaki
Alaska State Representative
City of Fairbanks

P.S. Follow me on TwitterFacebook Or Instagram.

As your Representative,
I am here to listen and help. Contact me anytime.

Rep.Scott.Kawasaki@akleg.gov
 
www.RepScottKawasaki.com
 
IN JUNEAU:
Phone: (907) 465-3466
FAX: (907) 465-2937
State Capitol Building
Juneau, AK 99801

IN FAIRBANKS:
Phone: (907) 456-7423
1292 Sadler Way
(AlaskaUSA Credit Building)
Fairbanks, AK 99701
 
Toll Free: (866) 465-3466

Voice your opinions!
Here are some ways to let your voice be heard regarding issues important to you.

Write a Letter to the Editor - submit up to a 350 word letter to the Fairbanks News Miner via their website:
http://newsminer.com

Contact the Governor
Governor Walker's Fairbanks office may be reached at 451-2920, or e-mail him. You can also visit the state website at alaska.gov

Contact your
Congressional Delegation

Senator Dan Sullivan
Fairbanks Office:
101 12th Avenue, # 328
Fairbanks, AK 99701
(907) 456-0261 or Email

Congressman Don Young
100 Cushman St., #307
Key Bank Building
Fairbanks, Alaska 99701
(907) 456-0210 or Email

Senator Lisa Murkowski
Fairbanks Office:
101 12th Avenue, # 329
Fairbanks, AK 99701
907-456-0233 or Email