JUNEAU – The Alaska Senate today voted to repeal and replace Senate Bill 91, strengthen the state’s sex crime laws, and provide police and prosecutors with new tools to fight crime.
“Public safety is government’s foundational responsibility and has been this Senate’s top priority since day one,” said Senate President Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage. “The Senate worked tirelessly on this effort all session – with over 53 hours of committee hearings – and produced legislation that will restore law and order to communities across Alaska.”
“No other function of government is as important as providing for the safety and security of citizens,” said Senator Shelley Hughes, R-Palmer, chairwoman of the Judiciary Committee. “Passage of this bill signals a new day, a new era, one which assures ‘justice for all.’ Victims will come first and offenders will be off the streets. Beyond repeal of SB 91, we’re bringing the hammer down on sexual predators who target children. But make no mistake, our work is not done. We are committed to making Alaska safer than ever and addressing the root causes of crime.”
“This effectively repeals and replaces SB 91, fulfilling a promise made by the governor and many legislators,” said Senator Mike Shower, R-Wasilla, chairman of the State Affairs Committee. “According to representatives from the Department of Law, Public Safety and Correction, this is the best package we have to begin to turn the tide against the crime epidemic in Alaska. We believe this is the right answer for Alaska and Alaskans.”
“This legislation deals with Alaska’s dark secret of sexual assault by hitting it head-on. If the state of Alaska were a country, we would rank number two in the world, right behind South Africa,” said Senator Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna. “Alaska’s sexual crime rates are three times higher than the national average, and child sexual assault rates are six times the national average. Adverse childhood experiences lead to other crimes, as victims often hide their pain through substance abuse, property crimes supporting their addiction, domestic violence, violent crimes and too often, suicide. This bill puts the right tools in place and a clear message that sexual predators will be dealt with through sentences of many, many years in prison and out of reach of our children and adult victims.”
House Bill 49 passed the Senate by a 20-0 vote and is now on its way to the House of Representatives for concurrence.