Alaska military code update unanimously passes House
A new version of the Code of Military Justice (HB 126) passed the Alaska House unanimously Wednesday morning, with a vote of 39-0.
HB 126 applies to the Alaska National Guard and was prompted by a scandal during Sean Parnell’s administration that showed widespread abuse and cover-up by authorities within the organization.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux R-Anchorage, updates the code enacted in the 1950s that LeDoux says hasn’t had any “big changes” since. The code sets regulations for holding soldiers accountable for misconduct in situations that might not constitute a civilian crime.
“It is a disciplinary tool that was requested by the Alaska National Guard,” Rep. LeDoux told colleagues on the house floor.
LeDoux says many of the regulations outlined don’t necessarily address consequences for crimes.
“They are not crimes really, they are disciplinary things,” said Rep. LeDoux. “For example, you might lose a day’s pay.”
The new code also allows the guard to court-martial individuals for military misconduct. Under the bill, any crime that allows for jail time of one year or more is considered a felony. For jail time less than one year, a misdemeanor. Some civilian crimes, such as sexual assault or DUI, are included in the code.
“They are the most disruptive to good order,” said Rep. LeDoux, adding that those civilian-type crimes would only be prosecuted by the military if a civilian court declines to do so.
HB 126 also specifically includes a punishable category of behavior, conduct unbecoming of an officer.
Rep. LeDoux says the new code “empowers” the guard to address misconduct and those involved when the act is not so bad that the individuals need to be separated from the service, while providing options for swift disciplinary action.
“It lets National Guard members, and the public, know what is expected of them and the consequences are clear,” said Rep. LeDoux, acknowledging that the bill “is not going to fix every problem.”
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