House Judiciary Committee begins hearings on its own crime bill
On Monday, Gov. Mike Dunleavy criticized the House for not acting fast enough on his four crime bills.
On Wednesday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Matt Claman, D-Anchorage, answered with his own crime legislation – House Bill 145.
“This is really focused on staying tough on crime but also being smart on crime, and looking for opportunities to get real rehabilitation opportunities so that we actually see better results,” Claman said.
“We really continue to face budget challenges,” he said. “If we don’t go with a smart path, we’re much more likely to find ourselves back in the place we were a few years ago where prison costs were going up and up, and we would have to build a new prison.”
The bill is considered a committee bill and features several provisions, including:
- Increased sentence ranges for certain misdemeanors and felonies, including an enhanced sentence “for making or possession methamphetamine in a home or lodging where children live.”
- Stronger drug penalties aimed at drug dealers and distributors, for whom the bill targets mostly rather than those who just possess controlled substances such as opiates, methamphetamine and heroin.
- Closing sex offense and sex offender registration loopholes. Part of this section addresses registered sex offenders who move from another state to Alaska and are no required to register as a sex offender here.
HB 145 comes with three weeks left in the session. The Legislature is still facing operating and capital budget votes, a debate on the Permanent Fund Dividend and pressure from Dunleavy to pass his three constitutional amendment proposals. The 121-day session ends May 15, though Dunleavy said Monday he has not ruled out a special session.
“I’ve got a real commitment to make sure that a crime bill passes the Legislature by the 121st day,” Claman said shortly before his committee gave HB145 its first hearing. “We’ll be able to do that going forward. There is enough time to accomplish that goal.”
Dunleavy’s four crime bills didn’t get much traction in the House. Each of the four remain in the first referred committee. Meanwhile, the Senate advanced all four to the Finance Committee, which heard SB 32 on Wednesday.
Senate Finance Co-Chair Natasha von Imhof said the committee will continue to hear Dunleavy’s bills in coming days and weeks.
So far only one crime bill received a vote from either the House or Senate. House Rep. Chuck Kopp’s HB 12 received unanimous approval from the House.
Kopp’s bill seeks to assist victims seeking to extend protective orders and has been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
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