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Bipartisan efforts

Letter to the Editor

Posted: Monday, October 28, 2002

"Alaska leads the nation in alcohol abuse. Statistics show that 80 percent of all crimes are committed by individuals under the influence of alcohol or drugs." - U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, Republican

"More than 70 percent of our prison inmates are in prison because they are addicted to alcohol and other drugs, but we can't afford to work on those addictions while we have them locked up. What's the cost of that revolving door?" - State Sen. Kim Elton, Democrat

How many of us can truly say we recognize and understand the enormity, the epidemic proportions, of the problems associated with substance abuse throughout our state? And how the cost of untreated, or at least unarrested, addictions flood over into all areas of both our emotional and economic lives, individually and collectively?

Kim Elton does, and his voting record proves it. Every year he has been in the Senate he has worked to increase the alcohol tax. Though the final bill which became law didn't have his name on it, his behind-the-scenes work has finally and definitely paid off with our new legislation more commonly known as the "dime a drink" tax.

He has tirelessly worked toward promoting tougher laws regarding alcohol abuse issues, and most recently worked with Cindy Cashen (MADD) and Rep. Norm Rokeberg (R) in successfully reducing the BAC for intoxicated drivers from .10 to .08.

Sen. Elton has always backed treatment funding requests for prisons, parolees, low-income families, and anyone in need of financial assistance when it comes to substance abuse.

Such a targeted determination to attack the multitudinous problems associated with all areas of chemical addiction and abuse is vital to this community whose high school was recently rated in the top 5 percent (Juneau Effective Prevention Program two-year study) in abuse problem severity amongst its students.

This state, this city, can no longer afford to minimize or deny both the short- and long-term effects of drug and alcohol abuse on a daily, tangible, economic, emotional basis and pretend it is not as big a problem for all of us as it most realistically and tragically is.

Kim Elton has proven over and over again that not only does he understand this vital issue, but has worked diligently, and very often in a bipartisan capacity, to toughen laws and further promote prevention-treatment chemical abuse program funding. Though there are other good reasons as well, just for this one alone does he most definitely have my vote, and I strongly urge you to also check Kim Elton's name on your ballot Nov. 5.

Kathryn Arlen

Juneau



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