Rep. Tuck’s number one priority for the 31st Alaska State Legislature was to fix Alaska’s crime problem and make Alaska a safe place to live and do business. He led the charge to repeal and replace the flawed criminal justice reform bill, Senate Bill 91, that became the symbol of Alaska’s public safety crisis. His work was critical in crafting the compromise bill, House Bill 49, which freed the hands of law enforcement while preserving the best parts of Alaska’s recent criminal justice reform efforts.
Rep. Chris Tuck was one of the first lawmakers to prioritize preparations for the COVID-19 pandemic. He was instrumental in inserting language into the COVID-19 response bill, Senate Bill 241, to allow the use of vote by mail for the 2020 primary and general elections.
“It’s heartbreaking to reflect on all that has been taken from us during the COVID-19 pandemic, but we will prevail. A vaccine will be found. Businesses will reopen, and children will return to school. Until then, protect your family, enjoy your friends, find satisfaction in your work, and help your neighbors.”
Rep. Chris Tuck
Audit Finds Waste and Mismanagement of State Resources.
In March, the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee released the 2019 statewide single audit, which found instances of unacceptable waste and mismanagement of state resources, including:
• A revenue classification misstatement of $1.1 billion and a $548 million understatement of revenue in the Constitutional Budget Reserve.
• $69.2 million of FERC-related revenues that should have been deposited into the Constitutional Budget Reserve were instead used to offset oil tax credits.
• The Department of Natural Resources did not transfer $199 million that was required to be transferred into the Alaska Permanent Fund.
• The Department of Health and Social Services created a “golden ticket” program (since discontinued) where they overrode internal controls designed to prevent unallowable costs, unallowable activities, and fraud for certain providers.
• Lack of preauthorization for dental procedures for children and young adults covered by Medicaid. The audit found examples of the excessive use of dental crowns. For instance, claims were paid for one three-year-old who received 14 crowns in one visit.
Rep. Tuck took the lead in highlighting the troubling results of the 2019 audit and brought this to the public’s attention for greater transparency in the process.
“In the end, our state auditors documented several instances of noncompliance and material deficiencies in our state government. This should trouble us all. Now more than ever, we need our government to be open and transparent while making wise use of our fiscal resources.” – Rep. Chris Tuck
Alaska Seismic Hazards Safety Commission
Rep. Tuck sponsored and passed House Bill 197 to extend the work of the Alaska Seismic Hazards Safety Commission until 2028. The Commission helps prepare Alaska for future earthquakes by making recommendations to local, state, and national officials. HB 197 passed with near-unanimous support just days before the Legislature went into a COVID-19 related recess.
In 2019, Rep. Tuck worked with Rep. Sara Rasmussen (R-Anchorage) and other likeminded lawmakers to restart the dormant Children’s Caucus. The goal of the Children’s Caucus is to develop and support innovative policies to protect children and promote healthy families.
“The only way to find real solutions is by working together, which is my hope for the Children’s Caucus. It’s been my experience that a group of dedicated lawmakers who put aside politics and work toward a shared goal can get things done. I think protecting children and promoting healthy families is a goal we all share.” – Rep. Chris Tuck
Rep. Tuck introduced House Bill 115 to make a simple change to Alaska’s absentee voter system to make it more convenient for those who prefer to cast their vote by mail.
House Bill 115 would have given Alaskans the option to receive absentee ballots by mail for all future state elections without having to fill out an application every year. It was one of the first bills taken up this year by the Alaska House of Representatives.
The bill passed the House on February 12. Unfortunately, consideration of the bill by the Alaska State Senate was cut short by the Legislature’s COVID-19 related recess. HB 115 was endorsed by the National Vote at Home Institute, which has been working with states to implement vote by mail in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Permanent Absentee Voting
“Exercising the right to vote is key to a strong democracy. House Bill 115 removes barriers to this right by making it more convenient to vote by mail in Alaska. Absentee voting is voting by mail. By simply adding a box to check on the absentee ballot application, Alaskans can routinely vote by mail, resulting in more participation and a stronger democracy.” – Rep. Chris Tuck