Small business commends passage of petty theft bill, urges governor’s signature
NFIB/Alaska State Director Denny DeWitt reports on the legislative week ending November 10
The Senate concurred with House amendments to Senate Bill 54 and sent it to Gov. Bill Walker for his signature. There are many positive changes in criminal accountability from the NFIB’s perspective. The major wins for small business were:
- The possibility of jail time for fourth-degree theft, up to five days for the first offense, increasing up to 30 days for the fourth offense. First and second offenders had been citations.
- Class C felonies can now earn from 0 to 2 years’ prison time.
- Class A misdemeanors can receive up to 30 days for a first offense, increasing to 365 days for the second felony offense.
- Criminal mischief sentencing now includes mandatory community service.
SB 54 reduced the felony threshold back to $750, a level NFIB had negotiated in 2015. Last year’s passage of Senate Bill 91 had increased the felony threshold from $750 to $1,000.
These changes give police officers and the court system tools to address the increasing crime rate in Alaska. They are the “sticks” that can be used to encourage violators into corrective programming made available by SB 91. The lack of “sticks” to encourage change in behavior was a critical failure of the crime reform found in SB 91.
Tax on Employees, Self-Employed
The Senate adjourned sine die (no date set to resume) November 10, an indication the body has no intention of passing the governor’s proposed tax on employees and the self-employed. Under the constitution, one house of the Legislature cannot adjourn without consent of the other house. Currently, the House has floor session scheduled for November 13.
NFIB is hoping the House see the wisdom of joining the Senate in also adjourning sine die.
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