Sunday, September 24, 2023
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House passes governor’s bill to increase penalties on drug dealers

The Alaska House of Representatives has passed the governor’s bill, HB 66, which establishes harsher penalties for those who have distributed drugs that directly lead to a user’s death, including fentanyl. It’s now in the Senate for consideration, but the legislative session ends next Tuesday, and it may be a bill that is held until next year.

HB 66 was crafted to combat the State’s drug problem at the distribution point. By putting drug dealers on notice with harsher penalties and less leniency for first-time offenders, the Alaska House Majority and governor hope for fewer fentanyl deaths.

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“Alaska has been hit hard by fentanyl. It’s imperative that we take action to address it,” said Speaker Cathy Tilton. “House Bill 66 is an important step in that direction. We are sending a clear message that those who engage in these dangerous activities will be held accountable for their actions. This is about justice for the victims and their families and ensuring that our communities are safe.”

The Department of Health’s 2021 Drug Overdose Mortality Update shows that Alaska experienced the largest percent increase of drug overdose deaths compared to all other states. While fentanyl is not the sole perpetrator, it remains one of the leading causes of overdose deaths, and the numbers continue to climb.

“This drug has caused countless deaths in our state, and we must do everything in our power to prevent more Alaskans from falling victim to its devastating effects,” said Rep. Craig Johnson, chair of the Rules Committee. “I am thankful to the governor for submitting the bill to us, grateful for our members working diligently toward its passage, and optimistic that the Senate will take swift action so we can show our cities and towns that their elected officials care about their health and safety.”

The House majority said it’s a critical moment for Alaska’s defense against drugs and those who distribute them.

“The Alaska House Majority anticipates swift passage through the Senate. While we recognize there is more that must be done to protect our communities and homes across the state, we are proud of this vital step forward,” the caucus stated.

Suzanne Downing
Suzanne Downing
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.


  1. I cannot imagine anyone not wanting this bill to pass unless they have a perpetrator in their family or are one. Thank you to the House for passing and hope the Senate does it’s job as well.

      • Yes. There is a video of Senator Kennedy calling for harsher penalties for dealing fentanyl and Senator Booker arguing against since it would lead to more people in prison on Youtube,

  2. This is a just action. Attach a proper penalty to the crime. If you deal in a product known to cause death, then understand that you will be charged accordingly. I see this in the same light as charging drunk drivers with manslaughter when they kill someone.

  3. “Alaska has been hit hard by fentanyl. It’s imperative that we take action to address it.”

    Doubling down on the same failed policies that brought about the fentanyl crisis doesn’t seem like”action that will address it.”

    “Success” in the battle against oxy, meth and heroin created the fentanyl crisis.

    If adults had the freedom to access an open market for the drugs they want, the black market for fentanyl would disappear, along with all the unnecessary death.

    What’s the next crisis after fentanyl? Is it going to take more tax money, police and prisons to address that one, too?

    • Making it legal would make taxes and insurances insanely expensive.
      Counties and states would have to employ even more emts, police and fireman to try and deal with the explosion of overdoses, car accidents, house fires ,etc….
      Family services would be expanded as well, more orphaned kids do to strung out or dead parents. Seniors that depend on help from their adult children would be left to try and fend for themselves (if they were physically or mentally able)
      Yeah, great idea- make it legal.

    • Jared, I think the evidence shows that Fentanyl is being flooded into this Nation by the Chi- Coms via a porous Southern Border. Turns out the Chi- Coms are doing to the U.S. with Fentanyl what the Brits did to China with opium. It occurs to me that the best way to stop Fentanyl is at its source, beginning with the producer,( China) and at the border.

  4. Every dealer wants their product legal. Legalization of weed done nothing to make alaska safer nor healthier. Neithier would
    legalizing all drugs.

  5. People buying weed from dispensaries aren’t smoking weed laced with fentanyl and dying.

    Weed isn’t the”gateway drug” it used to be because the dispensaries don’t sell the drugs on the other side of the “gate.”

    Is weed still a money maker for organized crime?

    The criminal profits exist only because the drugs are criminalized. Are any of these “hard drugs” any more harmful to the innocent public than a bottle of booze in the wrong hands?

  6. It’s about time, we use all or resources for trans rights, abortion, and climate change. This has been overlooked far too long. Just one trip through any large city in America and you will see the devastating effects of these deadly drugs.

  7. I just foresee “plea bargains” happening in the courts, nothing will change. Let nature take it’s course. Sad, but, if you’re dumb enough to do these drugs you get what happens to you. The real sad part is the real victims of the drug addict’s behavior. The ones who’ve been robbed, who’ve been in collisions, and the children involved. Why can’t people just smoke a jay and live a peaceful, productive life?

  8. Thanks, Governor. Good start.
    Respectfully suggest the law be amended to add mini-RICO language, mandatory asset forfeiture, and mandatory minimum sentencing, doubled for fentanyl trafficking.

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