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House passes bill to expand Alaska tribal law enforcement

Published: Mar. 22, 2021 at 6:14 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The U.S. House has passed a bill to renew the Violence Against Women Act that includes a pilot program that would expand tribal law enforcement in five Alaska Native villages.

The bill would provide Alaska tribal authorities the ability to prosecute crimes that include sexual assault, domestic violence and stalking, Alaska Public Media reported Friday.

The proposed legislation would provide tribes named in the pilot project criminal jurisdiction over members and nonmembers in villages if the community consists of at least 75% Alaska Native people.

The measure is similar to an amendment Republican Rep. Don Young sponsored in 2019. That bill died in the Senate without a vote. Young was one of 29 House Republicans to vote in favor of the bill.

Republicans objected to an expansion of the ban that prevented domestic violence offenders from buying guns, a provision that could derail the bill in the Senate again, the outlet reported.

Anchorage lawyer Lloyd Miller, who has advocated alongside tribes to receive similarly permanent jurisdiction, said it would help with rural Alaska’s public safety crisis.

“Women are victims of domestic violence at even higher rates than the terribly high rates that were already present across rural Alaska, which are the highest rates in America,” Miller said. “Make no mistake about it.”

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