JUNEAU — The Senate State Affairs Committee has advanced a bill calling for the annual state oil wealth disbursement checks of those incarcerated to go first toward victim compensation.
The bill sponsored by Sen. Fred Dyson, R-Eagle River, clears up who has priority to such Permanent Fund Dividend checks, as well as creates a reliable funding source for the Violent Crimes Compensation Board.
“This is one of the more significant things I’ve done,” said Dyson who has served in the Legislature for nearly 20 years and will be retiring at the end of his term. “There are a lot of victims out there this will help.”
The bill passed unanimously Thursday, with the committee’s three Republicans and one Democrat voting in favor. There was no opposition voiced at the hearing.
Felons and certain misdemeanor offenders have been ineligible by law to receive Permanent Fund Dividend checks since 1988.
The forfeited PFD checks were meant to fund victim compensation, but in 2012, the Violent Crimes Compensation Board received only 1.5 percent of court-ordered restitutions.
Dyson said since 1988 other statutes have been added into law regarding the dividing of the forfeited PFD checks among various state entities resulting in the Violent Crimes Compensation Fund being underfunded.
SB104 puts the Victim Compensation Board first on the list in receiving the forfeited funds followed by child support, rehabilitation program payments and coverage of any additional costs with that individual’s incarceration.
The bill also officially labels the fund the PFD Criminal Fund. The phrase is currently being used for accounting purposes only. It will be administered through the Office of Management and Budget.
The bill now goes to the Senate Finance Committee. It faces several more legislative hurdles, but Dyson says he feels confident that his proposal has enough support to eventually become law.