Pretrial revisions bill advances in Legislature
The House on Friday is expected to cast final votes to a sweeping crime bill that significantly alters the state’s current pretrial system.
The Senate on Thursday unanimously backed HB 312, but it still needs the House to approve changes the Senate made.
The Senate melded several of Gov. Bill Walker’s bills into the bill, backed by House Judiciary Chair Matt Claman (D-Anchorage).
Claman’s original bill, co-sponsored by Rep. Chuck Kopp (R-Anchorage), makes it a crime to attack medical professionals trying to assist others.
With additions, the bill also allows the attorney general to ban dangerous new drugs by emergency regulation rather than legislation.
The bill also gives judges additional authority in pretrial decisions, stripping out mandatory pretrial release requirements which have drawn attention in several high-profile cases in favor of greater judicial discretion.
Under the bill, judges can also consider out-of-state criminal records at bail hearings -- a factor ignored under the current pretrial system, which has let defendants with extensive Outside criminal histories make bail.
Senators on both sides of the aisle praised the bill as progress Thursday.
“The most important thing to me is today, we took down the sign that says welcome to Alaska for people with criminal records from somewhere else,” said Senate Majority Leader Peter Micciche (R-Soldotna).
“This bill is smart on crime, not just simply tough on crime,” said Sen. Tom Begich (D-Anchorage). “What it does is it hits specific things.”
The bill still needs to go to the House for an agreement vote on the Senate’s changes. Lawmakers are expected to adjourn this weekend, but have until Wednesday before the regular session ends.
Daniella Rivera contributed information to this story.
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