ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Update: 9:30 p.m.
The Dunleavy Administration is making clear to Alaskans the governor’s intention to fulfill his campaign promise to tackle crime in Alaska.
"We've got a new sheriff in town,” Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer told Channel 2 at a town hall meeting in Anchorage Monday evening. “He's 6' 7" -- Gov. Dunleavy -- and he's very serious about crime and making a difference."
The offices of the Gov. and Lt. Gov. visited Anchorage on Monday. Their message to voters is to contact their legislators and urge them to pass new crime legislation that would roll back parts of the controversial Senate Bill 91.
Lt. Gov. Meyer says SB 91 is a major focus of changes made to the Senate's newest version of crime legislation. He says addiction is at the heart of crime in Alaska, and SB 91 was an unsuccessful shot at fixing that by providing treatment options before mandatory jail time.
"Once we get these criminals off the street, get them in prison, if they want to get help for their drug addiction, we want to help them,” Meyer said. “But we've got to get them off the street first."
Several residents echoed Meyers' sentiments about SB 91 and a need for change. Susan Bates of Fairview agrees that mandatory jail time for addiction is the answer – she says it's the only thing that has gotten her 37-year-old daughter off the streets.
"My daughter has chosen to be homeless most of her adult life. What it has taken for her to make changes is a longer jail sentence where she couldn't get out early, she had to stay where she was for nine months."
“With no option of doing anything else, she decided to get her GED. She decided to do treatment. She decided to take classes so she could get a decent job when she gets out of there."
Meyer says he’s hopeful the Senate will pass the new crime legislation before the session expires. It would then be up to the House to reach a final approval. House Speaker Bryce Edgmon, I – Dillingham, told Channel 2 on Monday that the Senate’s amended version of the crime bill will be difficult to pass before session expires.
“It’s complicated. There were a number of changes that we have yet to take a close look at,” Edgmon said. “Our best effort will be applied to examining those changes and passing the bill in the next couple of days, if it all possible.”
Beginning at 6:00 p.m. at the Wilda Marston Theater at Loussac Library, officials from the Offices of the Governor and Lieutenant Governor are holding a town hall meeting to talk about crime legislation.
This comes in the midst of a back-and-forth on crime legislation between the Alaska State Senate and House of Representatives. On Monday afternoon, the Senate considered an amendment to a bill that passed through the House last week.
Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer is expected to be joined by representatives from the departments of law, corrections, and public safety to speak with Alaskans about the impacts of SB91 and the need to strengthen Alaska’s crime laws.
"We want to hear from the general public, and we want to relay the message to the legislators that crime is very important," Meyer said. "We are very pleased with what the legislators have done so far."
The meeting is happening until 7:30, for those who wish to weigh-in.