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May 22, 2019
House Approves Smart on Crime Legislation
On Monday, the Alaska House of Representatives formally approved a negotiated deal between Governor Dunleavy and the Alaska Legislature that will free the hands of law enforcement to make Alaska a safer place to live and do business. This is an important step in our ongoing criminal justice reform efforts.
House Bill 49 is notable for its tough-on-crime provisions, but it’s also smart on crime. Many lawmakers wanted to end Alaska’s new pretrial services program, which uses ideas and tools that have worked in other places to help people stay out of trouble. Instead, we did the smart thing by keeping the program and giving judges more discretion as to how and what tools to use when considering how to treat people accused but not yet convicted of a crime. It’s easy just to say lock them up, but in America, people are innocent until proven guilty.
This session, we have heard clear and convincing evidence linking Alaska’s ongoing opioid epidemic with the crime wave that rolled through our state like a plague. Like every plague, we were not ready for it, and it is causing heartbreak and devastation. I am glad that House Bill 49 includes a provision that gives offenders credit of up to a year for time spent in treatment. We need to continue to encourage Alaskans with dependency issues to seek help rather than a life of crime.
Like many of you, I have had my home and vehicle targeted by thieves. Vehicle theft, especially in Anchorage, is a real concern and HB 49 gives the police and prosecutors important tools to use as they fight this blight on our fair city.
House Bill 49 will be successful in reducing crime in Alaska because it puts power back in the hands of judges. These men and women are Alaskans. In some cases, they are our friends and neighbors. I have faith that Alaska’s judges know what will work and won’t work in our vast and unique state. By empowering judges, we give them the authority to deal with anyone who threatens the safety and security of the people of Alaska.
I anticipate the House Bill 49 conference committee report will be approved by the full Alaska State Senate once the Senators reconvene in Juneau after the Memorial Day holiday. Once that happens, the bill will be sent to the Governor for his promised signature.
Rep. Chris Tuck speaking at a rally in February opposing huge budget cuts proposed by Gov. Dunleavy.
Work for the Census and Help Your Community
Every ten years, a monumental effort is undertaken to count every person in the United States. The results of the 2020 Census are incredibly important in determining elected representation and federal and state spending. That’s why we need an accurate count, which requires boots on the ground. Right now, the U.S. Census Bureau is recruiting people to help with the count in Alaska. These are good paying jobs that don’t require specialized education or experience. If you’re interested, apply today at www.2020census.gov/jobs.
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