May 4th, 2018
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
HB 31: Statewide Rape Kit Reform
Legislation that is part of our ongoing work to end the backlog of untested rape kits in Alaska has passed the Alaska Legislature unanimously. My bill, HB 31, and a separate appropriation in the capital budget, will be used to test more than 3000 rape kits that have been sitting on police shelves for decades.
The DNA evidence obtained through testing sexual assault kits is a proven tool to solve and prevent crime. DNA evidence in Anchorage was used to charge a serial rapist for a series of attacks in 2014 that linked to crimes and victims as far back as 2001.
According to the FBI Uniform Crime Report, 60% of Alaska women report having experienced sexual violence. This bill will help prosecute criminals and support survivors by requiring 12 hours of sexual assault training for police officers and requiring an annual audit of the number of untested kits.
House Bill 31 provides a victim-centered approach to reporting sexual assaults in the state. With two reporting options following an assault, an individual can report the crime to local law enforcement or have the evidence collected anonymously. Anonymous victim reporting does not require the survivor to make contact with law enforcement or report a crime in order to preserve any time-sensitive evidence. I have worked on this legislation for nearly four years.
I want to thank Governor Bill Walker, the law enforcement community, the sexual assault kit initiative team and the following non-profit organizations for their strong support and advocacy: The Joyful Heart Foundation, the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault and Standing Together Against Rape. I also want to thank Alaska Sen. Anna MacKinnon and Sen. Kevin Meyer for their help. This was a huge bi-partisan effort that will have a significant impact on taking dangerous offenders and serial rapists off the streets and helping victims of this violent crime heal.
HB 217: Promoting Alaska Grown!
We did it! House Bill 217 has passed the House and Senate! HB 217 encourages the State of Alaska, school districts, and municipalities to buy more “Alaska Grown” produce and fish, and authorizes the Department of Natural Resources to sell products with the Alaska Grown logo.
Did you know that almost all of our food is imported from outside? The Division of Agriculture estimates that if we spent just $5 more a week on Alaska Grown it would have a $188 million impact on our economy (see image at right). Supporting our agriculture industry is good for our economy, good for health, and good for food security in Alaska.
HB 217 will increase opportunities for Alaska farmers and farmers markets, which earned $2 million in sales at more than 41 locations including the Mountain View Farmer’s Market and the Fire Island Bakeshop in Airport Heights. Another positive outcome of our work on this bill is that The Alaska Food Hub, an online sales platform, will also be able to sell these locally grown, value-added foods this year through a pilot program with the Department of Environmental Conservation. Once the pilot program is successfully completed we’ll be looking to make this online sales option permanent! Another emerging business opportunity, agro-tourism and farm tours, will also get a boost with relief from some civil liability risk for tourists with passage of the bill.
This is a huge win for our Alaska farmers and our health!
Done: Early Education Funding
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. Final negotiations on the operating budget are happening now. If funding for an important program is a concern for you, please get in touch and let us know to get an update.