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Governor Walker Signs SB 55 to Help Build a Safer Alaska

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SB 55 prioritizes testing sexual assault evidence; clarifies last year’s criminal justice reform bill

June 19, 2017 JUNEAU— Governor Bill Walker today signed major corrections reforms into law as a critical next step in building a Safer Alaska. The bill was the bipartisan effort of House Speaker Bryce Edgmon (D-Dillingham), Senator John Coghill (R-Fairbanks), and Representative Geran Tarr (D-Anchorage).

“Building a Safer Alaska requires us all to pull together and this legislation is a great example of bipartisan cooperation,” Governor Walker said. “I thank each and every legislator who worked on this bill and contributed to its success.”



Senate Bill 55 addresses a discrepancy between federal statues and Alaska law, bringing the state into full compliance with the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Alaska has been unable to enforce protective orders filed outside the state; SB 55 resolves that issue, making state and federal law consistent, and protecting vulnerable Alaskans regardless of where the protective order was filed.

The legislation also directs law enforcement agencies throughout the state to report to the Alaska Department of Public Safety (DPS) how many sexual assault evidence kits have not been tested. The deadline is September 1st. By November 1st, DPS will provide to the legislature a plan to address the backlog of untested evidence. The goal is to incentivize meaningful reforms in how sexual assault evidence kits are dealt with in the future.

SB 55 also clarifies Senate Bill 91, last year’s criminal justice reform legislation, to further empower law enforcement and other officials to take necessary steps to protect Alaskans.



Timeline:

 February 14 – Gov. Walker issued a 30-day disaster declaration to allow statewide naloxone distribution
· February 16 – Gov. Walker issued Administrative Order 283 establishing a plan of action that directs state departments to prioritize resources to combat the opioid epidemic and apply for federal grants to fund prevention, treatment and enforcement
· March 6 – Gov. Walker filed legislation (HB 159/SB 79) to change how opioids are prescribed & monitored
· March 10 – Gov. Walker filed SB 91 to extend disaster declaration
· March 21 – Gov. Walker signed SB 91, life-saving naloxone bill, into law
· April 17 – Gov. Walker announced Alaska’s participation in CDC-NGA project
· April 20 – Gov. Walker announced Alaska’s receipt of $2 million in federal STOG funds
· May 12 – Gov. Walker announced kickoff of contest to name drug dogs
· May 15 – Gov. Walker announces winners of drug dog-naming contest
· June 19 – Gov. Walker signed SB 55 into law


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