Extended Interview: Sen. Sullivan addresses rural public safety, tariffs on China and domestic violence bill
Sen. Dan Sullivan sat down with KTVA's Megan Mazurek to address several Alaska issues, including U.S. Attorney General William Barr's law enforcement emergency declaration for rural Alaska. He also spoke on the effects of the trade war on Alaska's fishing industry and a domestic violence bill he is supporting.
Rural public safety
The attorney general visited Alaska last month and met with tribal leaders at a roundtable for tribal justice and traveled to villages on a four-day trip across the state. On Friday, June 28, it was announced that $10 million in federal funding would be made available to address law enforcement needs including the recruitment and training of Village Public Safety Offices, Village Police Officers and Tribal Police Officers.
"It was clearly spurred by the visit. He was somebody who told me, 'I'm gonna focus on this,' and I think this is just going be the first step but as you saw it's quite comprehensive," Sullivan said. "It's a significant amount of money."
Funds were also allocated for an additional Project Safe Neighborhoods site and mobile detention facilities.
Sullivan said he did support the Trump Administration's initial imposition of tariffs on China because of the negative effects on Alaska's fishermen.
"They were essentially shooting our fishermen in the feet," he said.
What was happening, Sullivan said, was that salmon caught and gutted in Alaska by Alaskan fishermen were being sent to China to be filleted. Once the fish were sent back from China, the Trump Administration placed tariffs on the fish.
"I made the case to the president, to the U.S. trade rep, I even testified in front of the International Trade Commission," Sullivan said. "This would be the equivalent function of building a car in Detroit, sending it to China for a paint job and then putting a tariff on it. You're hurting the very people you said you're going to protect."
Sullivan said the administration has become more aware of the implications tariffs have on Alaska's economy. He said so far the federal government has lifted almost $300 million in tariffs. According to the senator, the federal government is working to lift tariffs for products coming into Alaska.
As Alaska's attorney general, Sullivan lead the Choose Respect domestic violence initiative with former Gov. Sean Parnell. He's taking components of Alaska's campaign to the national level.
"We have a series of bills that we've been introducing nationally," Sullivan said. "Essentially called the 'Choose Respect Initiative' nationally that we think has a significant potential for passing."
Sullivan worked on a bipartisan bill with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York, to create broad-based public service announcements bringing awareness to domestic violence based on Alaska's "Real Alaska men choose respect" campaign.
He also worked with Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California, on a bill to provide legal counsel for victims and survivors domestic violence. Sullivan says domestic violence perpetrators have a constitutional right to be provided a lawyer.
"The victim gets nothing," Sullivan said. "And yet, studies show if you get, particularly, a lawyer for a victim or survivor of domestic violence, it's the best way to get that person to be able to break out of the cycle of violence."
Sullivan is working as part of the Armed Services committee for the National Defense Authorization Act which details funding for the U.S. Military and Department of Energy. He also introduced the Save Our Seas 2.0 Act with Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-Rhode Island. The legislation addresses ocean debris and plastic pollution.
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