Democrat majority spurns governor's crime bills - Must Read Alaska
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Tuesday, January 26, 2021
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Democrat majority spurns governor’s crime bills



The House Democrat-led majority has decided to move ahead with Rep. Matt Claman’s watered-down crime package, HB 145, which removes the tougher provisions proposed by Gov. Michael Dunleavy’s original HB 49.

“HB 49 has morphed into HB 145 which was authored by Rep. Matt Claman who is an ardent proponent of SB 91,” said Rep. Cathy Tilton of Chugiak-Wasilla.

The watered down version that House Finances is considering, Must Read Alaska has learned, includes dramatically different language that includes much lighter presumptive sentencing ranges. Rather than 1-3 years for some felonies, for instance, the sentencing guideline would be rolled back to 90 days to two years.

Petty theft, a Class B misdemeanor, would go from 0-90 days to 0-30 days. It lowers penalty for escape or removal of ankle monitor. There are dozens of such changes made from the governor’s bill that remove penalties from those who commit crimes.

The governor’s summary on his original HB 49 can be read here.

The replacement bill by Claman in Judiciary that the House is now considering:

  • fails to return discretion to prosecutors, judges, and law enforcement.
  • fails to address problems identified by Department of Corrections regarding probation and parole.
  • fails to repeal the “catch and release” bail system that SB91 created.
  • is silent on pretrial release.
  • fails to adequately address Alaska’s drug epidemic and rising crime rates.

The 25-member House majority includes eight Republicans. After a blow-up in the caucus on Tuesday, it appears that Claman won his version of the bill over the objections of House Finance Co-chair Tammie Wilson, who had previously championed the governor’s crime bill. The tension between Wilson and Claman led to Wilson temporarily leaving the caucus.

Today, Wilson told her committee members that the current bill, with all of the Claman changes made to it, is so complicated that she feels lawmakers will not fully understand it, as they did not understand SB 91, when they voted to pass it. Claman sat in the back of the committee room to guard the changes he has made.

This evening the House Finance Committee will hold public hearings on the crime bills.

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Written by

Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Feel free to blame my knuckleheaded neighbors in Turnagain for returning Claman the Clown to Juneau. They whine about the increased crime in the area and then vote for a guy who works to keep the crime wave rolling. Anchorage is simply Seattle north it seems.

  • It seems most of the crime is in Anchorage so maybe they should have the power to shape a law for any crime within city limits.

    • Except that there’s such a thing as Article II, Section 19 of the state constitution which may get in the way of that. That section’s wording leaves it up to “judicial determination”. Don’t forget that it’s only in the Third Division that voters are showing dissatisfaction with judges through their votes in retention elections (everywhere else in the state, they’re being retained with yes percentages running in the high 60s or 70s). Do we really want to leave such matters up to judges whose job security may appear threatened?

  • Pissed off people called in!

  • Don’t particularly care about Claman’s Comedy Act on a good day…
    Too bad productive Alaskans can’t find out who –in this age of organized crime getting money faster than they can launder it– bought whom in the Holy City of Juneau to make this debacle happen.
    One so hopes –also in this age of America’s newly reconstituted Justice Department and increasing use of RICO enforcement– that answers will be forthcoming.
    Sad day for Alaska if the only recourses productive Alaskans have against crime, organized or otherwise, are vigilantism and jury nullification…
    That’s your goal, your purpose in life, what you’re being paid –or told– to do, Claman?
    Speak up soon, son, inquiring minds want to know!
    Maybe we should put in a good for Matt with Witness Protection?

  • I couldn’t find in the summary the info on increasing the penalties for violation of house arrest/residential confinement. But those penalties need to be severe regardless especially if someone cuts off their ankle unit or simply just doesn’t return home. Thats because its identical to escape from jail…only easier to accomplish. Electronic confinement only works if people know if they break the rules they’ll be in jail for the duration of their sentence plus suffer additional time for an escape charge. And if they are on electronic confinement on a pre-trial basis but violate that program they will be in jail for the duration of their trial and no longer eligible for house arrest. And, their bail needs to be quite high reflecting their propensity to escape or flee prior to trial.

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