Senator Berta Gardner

May 7, 2015

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Serving Midtown, Spenard, and UMed

State Capitol Bldg. Rm 9
Juneau, AK 99801
Phone: 907-465-4930
Call Me: 1-800-331-4930

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Governor Bill Walker
Anchorage Office
550 W. 7th Ave, Ste 1700
Anchorage, AK 99501
(907) 269-7450

Lt. Governor Byron Mallott
Anchorage Office
550 W. 7th Ave, Ste 1700
Anchorage, AK 99501
(907) 269-7460

What I Did On My Summer "Vacation," and Mysteries At Our State Crime Lab...

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Senator Gardner testifying before the Legislative Budget and Audit committee.
Senator Gardner testifying before the Legislative Budget and Audit committee.

After the Governor called a Special Session, the Majority Republicans agreed to pass a resolution authorizing a 12 day "recess".  The resolution was opposed by the Senate Democrats and the House Independent-Democratic Coalition. 

We still have significant work to do; including the passage of a fully funded budget, Medicaid expansion, providing essential resources for public education, and the passage of Erin's Law to reduce child sexual assault in Alaska.

I am anxious to see this work completed. Thousands of people have contacted my office with admonitions about the recess, and voicing support for these essential programs.  I truly value your input and am listening to the calls for action.  When I head back to Juneau I will carry with me your ideas, and will continue fighting to support public education, promote health and safety, and protect working families and communities.

Since I have been back in Anchorage, my staff and I have been attending community council meetings in the district.  It is always nice to chat with folks, and to hear face-to-face the concerns of my constituents.  Of particular interest continues to be the ill-conceived U-Med Road, an expensive but underfunded project which has generated opposition from across Anchorage.  So far, nine community councils have passed resolutions against the road, and I agree with them—now is not the time to funnel tens of millions of dollars into a project that is unwanted by our residents. 

In other matters, today I formally asked the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee for an audit of our state's crime lab.  I became concerned about this subject when reading about a massive backlog of untested rape kits in the lower 48, and the dramatic results achieved when states focused on catching-up on the test analyses allowing them to catch and prosecute sexual predators.  Wondering about the status of tests in Alaska, I sent a series of questions to the crime lab.  When the answers came back "unknown" I introduced legislation requiring an annual report to the legislature on untested sexual assault kits in agencies throughout Alaska.   

After the media reported on the introduction of my bill, we began to receive telephone calls and emails from current and former employees of the crime lab alleging mismanagement.  Our state of the art, expensive crime lab is actually sending many samples out of state for testing, processing fewer tests in the new facility.  I decided it was important to investigate the crime lab, to see whether there are any inefficiencies or cost-saving measures that we can take.  Thus, the audit.  I will keep you posted as to what is uncovered by this investigation.

I’m Berta and I’m still listening,

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact my office

signed: Berta

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