CAUTION: MORE CRIME, LEGAL RAPE AHEAD
Must Read Alaska has learned that the Democrat-led House Majority is preparing to reverse a compromise it made with the Dunleavy Administration on several key portions of HB 49, the governor’s legislation intended to fortify criminal justice. The matter is being taken up in House Finance on Monday at 9 am.
The Administration had agreed to a compromise on sections of HB 49, but even that was too tough-on-crime for the House Majority. They’ve decided they don’t agree with the Administration on key provisions and want to preserve sections of SB 91. Thus, they’re no longer in agreement on the compromise they made.
Some of the provisions that the Democrat-led House Majority are expected to offer on Monday include:
- Reversing their agreement with the governor on eliminating the use of “marriage as a defense” in sexual assault cases. The Department of Law says actual instances in Alaska have occurred where a woman is incapacitated due to dementia, Alzheimers, or another condition that prevents her from knowingly consenting to sex. The Department of Law says one such case is even on film, but cannot be prosecuted. The House Majority has decided to water down the provision so that this type of rape remains legal.
- Reversing their agreement on conditions of release. The governor had an agreement with the House Democrat-led Majority to make tougher sanctions on those who are out of jail awaiting trial, but who violate terms of their release. The House Democrat-led Majority wants to keep the SB-91 provisions and essentially eliminate jail time if people commit certain crimes while awaiting trial for prior offenses.
- Reversing their agreement on presumptions for release on bail. The governor and House Republicans want to return provisions to pre-SB 91 rules that give judges discretion. Currently, under SB 91, judges must release suspects unless they have “clear and convincing evidence.” The Democrat-led majority is choosing to keep this at SB 91 levels, removing the discretion of judges.
- Reversing their agreement on sanctions for technical violations to SB 91 levels. Under SB 91, people only go to jail for three days for a technical violation of their release. This is how they are importing drugs into prisons, critics say, because they swallow the drugs in containers and by the time they are released, they’ve excreted them and sold them in the correctional institutions. The governor wants to increase the range of sentences available for those who violate probation or parole. The House Democrat-led majority has decided to stick with SB 91.
- Reversing their agreement on lawbreakers who abscond. With SB 91, judges can only give absconders 30 days in jail. The governor and the House Republicans wanted to give discretion back to judges. The Democrat-led Majority agreed to that last week but has since changed its mind and wants to preserve the lighter penalties of SB 91.
- Reversing their agreement on a provision that makes driving with a suspended license a prosecutable offense. The House Democrat-led Majority wants to leave this offense of driving on a suspended license as one that cannot be prosecuted. Currently, it’s only prosecutable if it’s related to a DUI.
HB 49 is the governor’s crime bill with several provisions to reverse some of the more egregious problems with SB 91, criminal justice legislation that passed in 2016 and was signed into law by Gov. Bill Walker, which led to a serious and prolonged crime wave across the state.