March 21st, 2018
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Operating Budget on House Floor this week
Last This week the House has the Operating Budget on the floor. This year the budget can be characterized as a status quo budget that is aiming to maintain essential services. This is difficult because in some cases, like education, a status quo budget will lead to additional layoffs of teachers. We are trying our hardest to avoid these cuts and find ways to offer additional support. The exceptions are public safety and the University. Cuts over the last few years have gone too deep and our public safety has been compromised. We are adding back prosecutors and investigators so that cases won’t be passed over because of lack of resources.
HB 31: Hearing in Senate State Affairs This Thursday!
Last week, I got the chance to co-host Alaska’s first screening of the HBO documentary, I AM EVIDENCE, produced by Mariska Hargitay from Law & Order: SVU. I AM EVIDENCE discusses the high number of untested rape kits in the United States while also bringing attention to the disturbing pattern of how our criminal justice system treats survivors. It was heartbreaking to watch. I want to extend a thank you to all of those who attended. We had Senators and Representatives with staff attend, as well as representatives from non-profits, public safety, and more.
Since the screening, Senator Meyer, the Chair of the Senate State Affairs Committee, scheduled a hearing for my rape kit reform bill, HB 31. House Bill 31 requires an annual audit of untested rape kits, so that victims’ evidence does not continue to be left on a shelf, and so that law enforcement can prioritize efforts to address the full scope of the backlog. HB 31 puts in statute a victim-centered approach to reporting sexual assault, and requires 12 hours of sexual assault training at Alaska police academies to ensure victims are treated with care and respect.
Last year, the Legislature approved legislation to require local law enforcement agencies throughout the state to report their untested sexual assault kits to the Alaska Department of Public Safety. That report, which will become an annual report under HB 31, showed that 49 Alaska law enforcement agencies have 3,484 untested sexual assault kits. Of these, 3219, or approximately 92%, were in the possession of the seven largest agencies in the state. Anchorage had more than 53% of the untested kits.
Alaska's sexual crime rates are three times higher than the national average, and child sexual assault rates are six times the national average. According to the FBI Uniform Crime Report, 59 percent of Alaska women report having experienced sexual violence.
We know that when tested, DNA evidence obtained through testing sexual assault kits can be an incredibly powerful tool to solve and prevent crime. DNA evidence was used to charge a serial rapist for a series of attacks in 2014 that also led to linking the perpetrator to crimes as far back as 2001. It is time to put public safety for Alaska women and families to the forefront. I urge your support for HB 31.
Rep. Tarr, Senator MacKinnon and guests after the screening.
If you’d like to testify on this important piece of legislation, you can call in anytime during the Senate State Affairs Committee meeting this Thursday, March 22nd at 3:30 pm.
You will have two minutes to tell the committee members why you think HB 31 should pass. Make your voice heard!
To call in from Anchorage: (907) 563-9085
To call in from Juneau: (907) 586-9085
To call in from anywhere else: (844) 586-9085
Our Students Stand Up Against Gun Violence
Last week, hundreds of students marched to the Capitol Building to call an end to gun violence. It was inspiring to see our students and young people speaking out and expressing their feelings on these difficult issues. I’m proud of this generation for being brave enough to speak out against violence, and using their first amendment rights to make positive change. My bill, HB 75, which creates a gun violence protection order has had such powerful testimony from students, and they give me such hope for the future. House Bill 75 is currently in the House Judiciary Committee, and is a short-term tool to help people in crisis who pose a risk to themselves and others. You can track this piece of legislation by clicking here.
Hundreds of students gather outside the Capitol to call for an end to gun violence in our state.
Mountain View Brown Jug Update
Great news from the Anchorage Assembly meeting last night! By the end of this year, the Brown Jug liquor store across the street from Clark Middle School will close. Along with that, the company’s owners have committed to spending $25,000 on cleaning up their second Mountain View location, stop using plastic bags, open a few hours later, stop selling individual shooters, and creating a “do-not-serve” list. The closing of the Brown Jug liquor store is something that I, along with the Mountain View Community Council, our neighbors, and our students have been pushing towards for years. The students that called for action in 2014 are to be commended for their hard work in bringing attention to this issue. When we worked on this in the legislature the students called in and impressed committee members with their eloquent testimony. If you want to be inspired by our youth, click here to listen to their incredible testimony. I’m proud of the Mountain View Brown Jug for putting people before profit this time, and wanting to keep our students safe. I weighed in with a letter of support to the Assembly here.
You Should Have Received Your Ballot By Now!
April 3rd is Election Day- but traditional polling locations are no longer an option within the municipality! The Municipal Clerk’s Office has been working very hard to implement the new Vote by Mail system and has spent the last few weeks training members of its Stakeholder Group to give presentations to the public about Vote by Mail. You should have received your ballot in the mail this past week, if you didn’t, or if you misplaced it- please call the Voter Hotline at 907-243-VOTE (8683) to request a replacement ballot.
You can also visit an Accessible Vote Center for a replacement ballot, but be sure to bring proper identification!
There are three ways to return a ballot:
Loussac Library, 3600 Denali Street
Anchorage School District Education Center, 5530 East Northern Lights Blvd
Bartlett High School, 1101 Golden Bear Drive
Clark Middle School, 150 Bragaw Street
Dimond High School, 2909 West 88th Avenue
Fairview Community Recreation Center, 1121 East 10th Avenue
Service High School, 5577 Abbott Road
South Anchorage High School, 13400 Elmore Road
Spenard Community Recreation Center, 2020 West 48th Avenue
UAA Alaska Airlines Center, 3550 Providence Drive
Eagle River Town Center, 12001 Business Blvd
Girdwood Community Center, 250 Egloff Drive
Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions, concerns, or ideas! I love hearing from you!
All my best,
P.S. If you have any questions on upcoming events, please don’t hesitate to contact our office, we’d be more than happy to help answer any questions you might have!