Alaska House overwhelmingly passes compromise crime package

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JUNEAU, Alaska (KTUU) - The Alaska House of Representatives has overwhelmingly passed a compromise crime bill Monday evening.

Members voted 36-2 in favor of House Bill 49. Reps. Grier Hopkins and Adam Wool, both Democrats from Fairbanks, voted against the package.

“We’ve toughened the sentences and created new avenues to address crime that’s been plaguing our neighborhoods and businesses,” Rep. Chuck Kopp, R-Anchorage, said. “We have repealed and replaced Senate Bill 91.”

Rep. Lance Pruitt, R-Anchorage, the House minority leader, applauded the passage of bill but cautioned that keeping the controversial pretrial assessment tool in effect meant the Legislature couldn’t claim to have completely repealed SB 91.

Others weren't as impressed.

Hopkins expressed concerned at the cost of HB 49, estimated at close to $100 million over the next two years and that increasing sentencing ranges would “disproportionately affect minorities and the poor, here in Alaska.”

Wool echoed the sentiment saying that putting more people in prison could split up families, and lead to more social problems in the future.

Across the aisle, lawmakers stood up and said that a package was now needed to treat substance use disorders.

Rep. Tammie Wilson, R-North Pole, hinted that more information on a possible drug addiction treatment package would be discussed at a House Finance Committee meeting Tuesday morning.

HB 49 will need to be approved in the Senate before heading to the governor's desk, a vote is expected next week.

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