Bill Signed Into Law Toughening Up Penalties for Theft and Other Crimes
By MARY KAUFFMAN
November 27, 2017
"The passage of SB 54 helps to build a Safer Alaska, Governor Walker said. "While some portions of the legislation may need to be addressed by the court system, this law is an important first step in returning some important tools to the law enforcement community."
“Senate Bill 54 does many good things, including toughening up penalties for theft and other crimes that are making Alaskans feels less safe in their homes and businesses. The bill gives law enforcement many of the tools they asked for to respond to the current crime-wave, and it sends a clear message that criminal behavior in Alaska will not go unpunished,” said Speaker of the House Bryce Edgmon (D-Dillingham).
Edgmon said, “I, like many of my colleagues, am troubled by the bill’s Constitutional issue, which the Legislature could have remedied had the Senate been willing to convene a conference committee. We now hope that the court system will be able to address the issue as quickly as possible without the need for another crime bill in the next legislative session.”
However, according to Representative Lora Reinbold (R- Eagle River, the Alaska Department of Law has stated that the arguments raised against SB 54, have already been defeated through past litigation, therefore the state would prevail if any unnecessary, frivolous constitutional challenges are forthcoming.
For more than a week the American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska had been stirring up talk that a single amendment, put forward by Rep. Reinbold to increase penalties for Class C Felons (like those who steal vehicles, a firearm or sexually assault a minor in the third degree), should prevent SB 54 from becoming law. Speaker of the House Bryce Edgmon released a statement echoing the ACLU.
Reinbold said earlier that it was clear now what was standing between SB 54 becoming law is the ACLU and the Speaker of the House, not his amendment. Reinbold said SB 54 needed to be signed without delay for it gives important tools back to prosecutors and law enforcement to hold criminals more accountable.
Reinbold said since the Alaska Senate adopted the House version of SB 54, the Speaker of the House dug in his heels against progression of the bill by holding unofficial House Floor sessions with the fantasy that work would resume on the bill. Edgmon's actions were supposedly tied to this idea that SB 54 was flawed but with these recent comments from the Department of Law said Reinbold, it’s clear there is no reason for him to have drug out the special session.
“I’m glad the Governor has communicated his intention to sign SB 54 into law. SB 54 makes some needed changes to SB 91 but the work needs to continue next session to strengthen Alaska’s criminal code. There should be no hold up with the Governor signing SB 54,” said Rep. Reinbold on November 11th, before the Governor signed the bill into law today.
Below are highlights of five major points in SB 54:
On the Web:
Editing by Mary Kauffman, SitNews
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