Governor signs criminal justice reform bill, Rep. Munoz comments on Action Line

    Juneau Representative Cathy Munoz was in attendance at the signing and commented while a guest on Action Line later that morning, saying it directs more money at treatment and trying to get non-violent people into treatment as they come out of prison.

    Governor Walker signed the Criminal Justice Reform Bill during a signing ceremony Monday.

    Juneau Representative Cathy Munoz was in attendance and commented on the signing while a guest on Action Line later that morning:

    "The signing took place out at the Haven House, which is a facility that is a residential facility for women that are coming out of prison. It's a Christian based organization. The Governor chose to have bill signing there. I think close to one-hundred people were in attendance, so it was a big deal."

    Munoz talked about key provisions:

    "It directs more money at treatment and trying to get non-violent people into treatment as they come out of prison. It's to reduce recidivism rates. We have a very high recidivism rate in Alaska. Something like 27% of offenders come back to prison within the first year or two. The idea is to save prison beds for the more serious offenders, to focus pretrial release more on risk and less on the ability to pay, and to strengthen probation and full supervision. There are a number of significant changes in SB-21."

    The second special legislative session of the year started up in the Capital City Monday.

    Representative Munoz was also asked if the session might be moved out of Juneau:

     "The legislative session is in Juneau. All of the floor votes will occur in Juneau. The House Finance Committee is scheduled to meet all of this week in Juneau. The Senate Finance Committee and I believe the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee have scheduled meetings for Anchorage. All of the members on that committee are for the most part from the Railbelt region. There's one legislator from Northern Alaska also on that panel, but no members from Southeast from either of those committees. I think it's fine for field hearings to be held up north to explain what's happening and get input from the residents in the Railbelt, but all of the floor votes will occur in Juneau."

    We asked what she thinks the Legislature will end up doing this time around:

    "I am concerned. I know already in the media I've heard comments that from the minority leader we're not going to get our work done until January. What I'm hoping is that we can come together in a bipartisan fashion. It's very important that we have strong bipartisan support for moving forward and we don't have a lot of time to dig our heels in the sand and delay this process."

    She says the Permanent Fund legislation is key and hopes they can pick up where the House Finance Committee left off on the bill during the first special session:

     "The endowment is really the cornerstone of a fiscal plan. Putting the endowment in place first is very important, because then it determines what all of the other issues that are needed to fully balance the budget are. The calculation will be set at that point."

    Governor Walker also wants a broad based tax.  He's asked for an income tax and that is also in the proclamation for this special session, but a sales tax is also included this time:

    "The  issue I have with the state sales tax is that many of the coastal communities especially already have municipal taxes in place. Juneau as you know has a 5% sales tax, and Anchorage has a 0% sales tax. So there will be a disadvantage to communities that already tax and I think the goods and services in those communities will be put at a competitive disadvantage if a broad based sales tax were put into place."

    And Representative Munoz says she's detecting more support for an income tax.

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