JUNEAU (AP) -- A bill aimed at getting tough on potential acts of terrorism passed the House on Thursday.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Lesil McGuire, R-Anchorage, would make intentionally damaging a pipeline, utility or emergency response equipment a Class A felony that could be punished by up to a 20-year prison sentence. Currently, the maximum sentence for such crimes is 10 years.
''After September 11th, it's a recognition that there are certain things that make Alaska especially vulnerable,'' McGuire said, referring to the pipeline provisions.
The bill also would spell out that tampering with water supplies or putting dangerous substances in the air are crimes punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Current law prohibits tampering with food, drugs or cosmetics, but McGuire said water and air are not covered now.
''Some of this stuff was kind of unimaginable'' before Sept. 11, she said.
The measure also would create a crime of first-degree terroristic threatening, which could be punished by up to 10 years in prison. This could include causing a building to be evacuated or causing someone to fear for their health by sending a substance such as anthrax through the mail.
Making a false report of that nature would be second-degree terroristic threatening, punishable by up to five years in prison.
The bill also would allow prosecutors to charge people with first-degree murder if someone is killed by a terrorist act, even if the intent wasn't to kill anyone.
For instance, if a terrorist placed a bomb in a building at night, thinking it would be unoccupied, but a late-night worker was killed, the terrorist could face first-degree murder charges, said Anne Carpeneti of the Department of Law.
The department supports the measure, Carpeneti said. It includes elements of a bill the governor introduced this year, based on post-Sept. 11 recommendations from district attorneys around the state, she said.
The bill passed the House unanimously and now goes to the Senate.
Peninsula Clarion ©2015. All Rights Reserved.