Assemblymember, Anchorage residents call for SB91 repeal
The Anchorage Assembly's Public Safety Committee drew a crowd of public testimony on the state's criminal justice overhaul, Senate Bill 91.
It was standing room only at the committee meeting Friday. While it's fairly unusual for the municipality to get involved in state issues, members said the issue is especially important to the Anchorage community.
"I wanted to make sure you understood that when the legislature creates criminal statutes, typically those statutes supersede anything that we could pass at the local level," Assemblymember Pete Petersen told the crowd.
The assembly asked for it, and they got an earful of it: public testimony on crime.
"I am sick of it, I am fed up, I have never been scared in my life, but I am fearful for my life sometimes when I walk around downtown," said one woman, who identified herself as a "pissed off veteran."
"I'm mad as hell," said Kim Colville, a Potter Marsh resident who said her home was burglarized earlier this month.
"This has got to stop. I'm not going to say please-- I've heard a lot of people say please. Stop it!" another woman said sternly to the assembly.
Neighbors filled the room and ran the clock down on the hour-long meeting.
Assemblymember Eric Croft, chair of the Public Safety Committee, promised the public would get another opportunity to testify soon.
"I'm going to move on to the work session now," Croft said at one point during the meeting.
But the assembly never got to the work session. The committee was supposed to revise a resolution urging the legislature to make changes to SB91, through Senate Bill 54.
But the public called for something more.
"I think that the best bet is to kill SB91, start over fresh," said an Anchorage resident, who identified herself as an employee at Standing Together Against Rape (STAR).
"I urge you to not even consider anything that would modify the existing bill but it should be-- it should be eliminated and we need to start over," said Georgia Kastura.
"SB91 just needs to go away!" added Stephen Duplantis, a pastor at Anchorage First Assembly.
After Friday's session, at least one assembly member plans to oblige.
Amy Demboski says she'll introduce a new resolution, urging a full repeal-- not just the tweaks lawmakers are considering in SB 54.
"It's like being on the battlefield, and you get your leg blown off and then all of a sudden you put a band-aid on it to stop the bleeding," said Demboski. "SB54 is essentially the band-aid solution by those pro-social-justice, soft-on-crime legislators."
Assemblymember Christopher Constant urged caution.
"What I'm seeing is this incredible focus on one piece of law, that is going to be the solution to all of our problems," Constant said. "And, bottom line is, if this happens, your problems will not be solved because these issues have been ongoing for years."
While there may be some debate on the assembly, those attending Friday's meeting did reach one consensus-- Anchorage residents have a lot to say on SB91. And they're eager for lawmakers to listen.
"If you don't do anything, the police don't do anything, the public are going to have to take up arms themselves," said Sullivan James.
Demboski says the Anchorage Assembly will take public testimony on the topic again next Saturday at the Anchorage Loussac Library from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
At least one state lawmaker supports a repeal of SB91. Last week, Sen. Mia Costello announced she plans to introduce a bill to do that during next year's regular session.
Copyright 2017 KTVA. All rights reserverd.
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: