‘THEY LIED TO US. WE TRIED. WE REPEALED IT.’
Must Read Alaska is breaking down the changes that HB 49 makes to the current criminal justice laws that SB 91 created in 2016, the crime bill signed into law by Gov. Bill Walker that led to a breakdown of law and order in Alaska.
This is the first in a series that discusses various aspects of the changes.
WHERE HB 49 STANDS IN THE LEGISLATURE
HB 49 is the work of several senators and representatives. They had to fight Rep. Matt Claman, who chairs House Judiciary Committee, to get SB 91 repealed. Claman blocked and delayed passage until it was forced into special session. They also had to fight Rep. Chuck Kopp and, to an extent, Rep. Tammie Wilson, both who defended major provisions of SB 91 and who serve in the Democrat-led caucus.
On the Senate side of the Legislature, fighting to repeal SB 91 were, as pictured above from the left, the champions of the new legislation, Sens. Lora Reinbold, Mia Costello, Mike Shower, Shelley Hughes, and Peter Micciche.
In the final version of HB 49, Claman, Kopp, and Wilson lost their battle to spare criminals from consequences. Claman and his wife are trial attorneys; more of their clients will be going to prison under HB 49.
The final version of HB 49, the “repeal and replace” bill that deep-sixes the liberal laws of SB 91, has been negotiated and printed, agreed upon by conference committee, and now just awaits final votes by the House and Senate. It’s all but passed, and then will need a governor’s signature. It may go to the House for a vote on Tuesday, but it has not been scheduled for either a House or Senate vote. The Legislature is in special session.
There’s no time to lose, according to those who have been victims of crime.
Every day that SB 91 is still in place, people across the state are being victimized by the lenient sentences and revolving door policies the state put in place at the urging of the Pew Charitable Trust, said Sen. Peter Micciche in Kenai on Saturday.
Micciche, who carried HB 49 on the Senate side for the governor, was also a former sponsor of SB 91.
When he spoke to Alaskans this weekend, he said that the Legislature had fallen for a bill of goods sold by Pew Charitable Trust.
“They (Pew) get states to pass legislation and then they use those states to get other states to pass the same legislation. We fell for the false narrative,” he said, talking about SB 91.
“This year we said no. They lied to us. We tried it. We repealed it,” Micciche said.
“By passing this bill we are making a statement. We are saying that as legislators, your representatives, we stand with victims and support safer communities. We are making a statement to drug dealers, car thieves, violent offenders and sexual offenders of our children and of women, and producers and distributors of child pornography, that they will be going to jail for a very long time,” Micciche said.
“For less serious criminals, we will be making the statement that we will help you turn your life around, but you will first pay the price for your crime.”
As for how HB 49 may have been watered down in the conference committee, Micciche said: “We gave up nothing.”
He expanded on that by explaining how, of the 31 sections that had differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill, the Senate side accepted just three small changes from Reps. Claman and Kopp, and the final version of HB 49 contains 28 of the strengthening provisions from the Senate side.
The stronger laws include the “marriage as a defense for rape” provision that House Republicans were trying to repeal against the overwhelming votes of the Democrat-led Majority. It’s unclear why that majority thinks rape inside of marriage is defensible, but Rep. Tammie Wilson has spoken at length about not wanting the law to get involved inside of marriage.
CHANGES TO PENALTIES FOR SEX OFFENSES
Sexual Assault in the Second and Third Degree: Changes the required mental state from “knowing” to “reckless” when the offender engages in an assault with a victim who is mentally incapable, incapacitated, or unaware.
Sexual Abuse of a Minor Sentencing: Makes sexual abuse of a minor in the third degree a sexual felony when there is a six year age difference, thus increasing the sentencing range from 0-2 to 2-12 years.
Indecent Exposure: Makes indecent exposure when the offender masturbates a Class C felony and a Class B felony in the presence of a person under 16 years of age.
Unlawful Exploitation of a Minor: HB 49 makes unlawful exploitation of a minor an unclassified felony from the current Class B felony if the person has been previously convicted of exploitation of a minor or the victim is under 13 years of age.
Presumptive Sex Offense Sentencing: Clarifies that any prior felony counts as a prior felony for presumptive sentencing purposes in sex cases.
Out of State Sex Offender Registration: Requires anyone convicted of a registerable sex offense in another state to register in Alaska.
Indecent Viewing: Makes indecent viewing or production of a picture of a child and an adult a registerable sex offense and sentenced as a sexual felony.
Soliciting Sex From a Minor: Deletes “online” from the crime of “online enticement of a minor,” making solicitation of a minor for sex a B felony.
Unwanted Images of Genitalia: HB 49 makes repeatedly sending unwanted images of genitalia to another person harassment in the second degree, a Class B misdemeanor.
Marriage Defense to Sexual Assault: Repeals marriage as a defense to sexual assault except in cases where there is consent or when the defendant can prove the victim was lucid during the event, and that the sexual event was consensual.
Next in the series: HB 49 and drug offenses.