The first round of bills prefiled by lawmakers Friday reveals public safety measures that will be on the table in Juneau this year.

The proposals include preventing Alaska inmates from being sent to private, out-of-state prisons, implementing a deadline for testing rape kits and increasing the sentencing range in cases in which a victim is targeted because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. 

House Bill 187 

House Bill 187, sponsored by Rep. Zack Fields, D-Anchorage, would prevent the Department of Corrections commissioner from housing Alaska prisoners out of state, except in cases in which a person is being moved to serve their prison sentence closer to family or if a move is required for medical care. 

The measure is a response to Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy's administration's controversial October announcement regarding a plan to secure a contract to house inmates elsewhere. However, the DOC is a month behind its own schedule, has not entered into a contract and is not offering any explanation as to what is causing the delay.  

Sen. Elvi Gray-Jackson, D-Anchorage, is sponsoring a companion bill in the Senate. 

House Bill 182 

According to the Department of Public Safety website, a 2019 inventory found a total of 1,696 untested victim sexual assault kits.

As the state crime lab is still working through the backlog, Rep. Geran Tarr, D-Anchorage, is sponsoring HB 182. The measure would implement a deadline requiring rape kits be tested within six months of arriving at the lab. 

Sen. Elvi Gray-Jackson, D-Anchorage, is sponsoring a companion bill in the Senate.  

House Bill 198 

A bill filed by Rep. Andy Josephson, D-Anchorage, would update a statute related to aggravating factors at sentencing. 

Currently, a person convicted of a crime is eligible for a harsher sentence if they are found to have targeted a victim because of the victim's race, sex, color, creed, physical or mental disability, ancestry or national origin. 

House Bill 198 would add "sexual orientation or gender identity" to the list. 

Lawmakers are expected to propose another round of prefiled bills on Friday, Jan. 17. 

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