Legislature(2001 - 2002)

2001-04-23 House Journal

Full Journal pdf

2001-04-23                     House Journal                      Page 1134
HB 251                                                                                            
HOUSE BILL NO. 251 by the House Rules Committee by request of                                       
the Governor, entitled:                                                                             
     "An Act relating to the commission of an offense or a juvenile                                 
     delinquency act involving the victim's race, sex, color, religion,                             
     physical or mental disability, sexual orientation, economic                                    
     disadvantage, ancestry, or national origin; relating to sentencing,                            
     informal adjustment, and adjudication for those offenses and acts;                             

2001-04-23                     House Journal                      Page 1135
     relating to a diversity tolerance program for certain juvenile                                 
     delinquency acts; relating to a civil cause of action for certain acts                         
     involving discriminatory harassment; and providing for an                                      
     effective date."                                                                               
was read the first time and referred to the Health, Education & Social                              
Services, Judiciary, and Finance Committees.                                                        
The following fiscal note(s) apply:                                                                 
1.  Zero, Dept. of Law                                                                              
2.  Indeterminate, Dept. of Corrections                                                             
The Governor's transmittal letter dated April 20, 2001, appears below:                              
"Dear Speaker Porter:                                                                               
I am transmitting to you today a piece of legislation that I wish were                              
not needed with hopes that some day it will become an unnecessary                                   
law on the books.  This bill may be called Alaska's Hate Crime Act.  It                             
is intended to adequately punish those ignorant offenders who commit                                
crimes based on hatred of another because of who that person is.  It is                             
intended to send the clear message that Alaskans condemn this                                       
intolerance of diversity.                                                                           
This bill expands the legal protection given to those in our society                                
most vulnerable to attack because of prejudice.  Our current law                                    
allows for an aggravated sentence in felony cases if the offender was                               
consciously attacking the victim because of that person's race, sex,                                
color, creed, physical or mental disability, ancestry or national origin.                           
This bill:                                                                                          
     · Includes in the list of aggravators a victim's sexual orientation                            
         or economic disadvantage;                                                                  
     · Clarifies that the aggravators may apply even if the offender                                
         mistakenly perceived the victim to fall into one of the listed                             
     · Imposes mandatory minimum sentences for hate crime                                           

2001-04-23                     House Journal                      Page 1136
     · Prohibits the suspension of imposition of sentences in hate                                  
         crime cases;                                                                               
     · Requires sanctions for juveniles who commit hate crimes                                      
         including community work service and referral to a diversity                               
         tolerance program;                                                                         
     · Creates a civil right of action allowing victims to sue their                                
         attacker or the parents of a juvenile attacker.                                            
This bill cannot solve the problem on its own.  Punishing hate crimes                               
will not curb bigotry.  We can end the scourge of prejudice only                                    
through teaching and sharing with our children the value of cultural                                
diversity and the respect all human beings deserve.                                                 
So with this legislation my administration will be taking further steps                             
to teach tolerance.  We will encourage school districts to create                                   
standards and guidelines for protecting students from hate crimes.  We                              
will train our public safety officers to recognize and adequately                                   
address these crimes.  And I will create a statewide commission on                                  
tolerance that will recommend further actions we Alaskans may take                                  
together to build a just society.                                                                   
I encourage the Legislature to stand with me in sending this message                                
of tolerance and respect.  I look forward to working together on                                    
passage of this legislation and our other efforts to make this Hate                                 
Crime Act one that will some day be a forgotten legacy of an                                        
intolerant past.                                                                                    
                                Tony Knowles