Shades of Nancy Pelosi. The Alaska Legislature, apparently, is of the “we have to pass it before we can know what’s in it” school of lawmaking.
Many legislators and administration officials were surprised to learn Senate Bill 91, the criminal justice reform legislation passed last year and now going off the rails, does not mandate jail time for sexual abuse of minor – if it is the first offense.
The law, in fact, puts sexual abuse of a minor in the same category as car theft. Neither call for jail time on a first offense. And SB91 makes Alaska the very first state to eliminate prison time for Class C felonies for first offenses. It is no wonder SB91 is called the catch-and-release law.
With cars being stolen and the number of minor crimes soaring – and why not if there is no punishment? – we wondered how a 20-page piece of legislation could be passed and lawmakers not see the inherent problems. Moreover we wondered who voted for it.
It passed 16-2 in the Senate. The measure was sponsored by Sens. John Coghill, R-North Pole, Johnny Ellis, D-Anchorage, Lesil McGuire, R-Anchorage, Mia Costello, R-Anchorage, Click Bishop, R-Fairbanks, Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, and Dennis Egan, D-Juneau.
Yeas included Sens. Bishop, Coghill, Costello, Mike Dunleavy, R-Wasilla, Egan, Ellis, Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage, Lyman Hoffman, D-Bethel, Pete Kelly, R-Fairbanks, Anna MacKinnon, R-Anchorage, McGuire, Kevin Meyer, R-Anchorage, Micciche, Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak and Bill Wielechowski, D-Anchorage.
Sens. Charlie Huggins, R-Wasilla, and Bill Stoltze, R-Wasilla, voted no. Sen. Berta Gardner D-Anchorage, was excused and Sen. Sonny Olson, D-Nome, was absent.
The measure was transmitted to the House, where it passed 28-11, with one excused.
Yeas included Reps. Ivy Spohnholz, D-Anchorage, Louise Stutes, R-Kodiak, Dave Talerico, R-Healy, Geran Tarr, D-Anchorage, Steve Thompson, R-Fairbanks, Chris Tuck, D-Anchorage, Tammie Wilson, R-North Pole, Adam Wool, D-Fairbanks, Matt Claman, D-Anchorage, Harriet Drummond, D-Anchorage, Bryce Edgmon, D-Dillingham, Neal Foster, D-Nome, Les Gara, D-Anchorage, Lynn Gattis, R-Wasilla, David Guttenberg, D-Fairbanks, Bob Herron, D-Bethel, Shelly Hughes, R-Palmer, Scott Kawasaki, D-Fairbnks, Wes Keller, R-Wasilla, Sam Kito, D-Juneau, Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins, D-Sitka, Gabrielle LeDoux, R-Anchorage, Cathy Munoz, R-Juneau, Benjamin Nageak, D-Barrow, Curt Olson, R-Soldotna, Dan Saddler, R-Anchorage, Paul Seaton, R-Homer, Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski.
Nays: Cathy Tilton, R-Wasilla, Liz Vazquez, R-Anchorage, Jim Colver, R-Palmer, Delena Johnson, R-Palmer, Joe Josephson, D-Anchorage, Bob Lynn, R-Anchorage, Charisse Millett, R-Anchorage, Mark Neuman, R-Big Lake, Dan Ortiz, unaffiliated-Ketchikan, Lance Pruitt, R-Anchorage, Lora Reinbold, R-Eagle River.
Anchorage Republican Mike Hawker was excused.
When the measure was returned to the Senate for its concurrence with House changes, the final vote was: 14 yeas, five nays and one absent.
Voting yes were: Sens. Kelly, MacKinnon, McGuire, Micciche, Olson, Stevens, Wielechowski, Bishop, Coghill, Costello, Egan, Ellis, Gardner and Meyer.
Voting no: Stedman, Stoltze, Dunleavy, Giessel and Huggins.
Sen. Hoffman was absent