JUNEAU – With a vote of 35-5 the Alaska House of Representatives has passed HB 66 and transmitted it to the Senate for final deliberation. The bill, which was introduced by the Governor and carried by Representative Craig Johnson (R-Anchorage), establishes harsher penalties for those who have distributed drugs that directly lead to a user’s death, including fentanyl – which has had a devastating effect on Alaskan communities in the past decade.
HB 66 was crafted to attack the State’s drug problem at the distribution point. It should not be understated just how powerful a deterrent these increased penalties have on drug dealers and the profiting from the pain and suffering of others. By putting drug dealers on notice with harsher penalties and less leniency for first-time offenders, the Alaska House Majority is confident a noticeable difference can be made in our state.
“Alaska has been hit hard by fentanyl. It’s imperative that we take action to address it,” said Speaker Cathy Tilton (R-Wasilla). “House Bill 66 is an important step in that direction. We are sending a clear message that those who engage in these dangerous activities will be held accountable for their actions. This is about justice for the victims and their families and ensuring that our communities are safe.”
When the administration first transmitted the bill, the Governor referenced the Department of Health’s 2021 Drug Overdose Mortality Update, which shows that Alaska experienced the largest percent increase of drug overdose deaths compared to all other states. While fentanyl is not the sole perpetrator, it remains one of the leading causes of overdose deaths, and those numbers continue to climb.
“This drug has caused countless deaths in our state, and we must do everything in our power to prevent more Alaskans from falling victim to its devastating effects,” stated Representative Craig Johnson (R-Anchorage). “I am thankful to the Governor for submitting the bill to us, grateful for our members working diligently toward its passage, and optimistic that the Senate will take swift action so we can show our cities and towns that their elected officials care about their health and safety.”
This is a critical moment for Alaska and our defense against drugs and those who dare to distribute them to our people. The Alaska House Majority anticipates swift passage through the Senate. While we recognize there is more that must be done to protect our communities and homes across the state, we are proud of this vital step forward.