JUNEAU (AP) -- A bill increasing the penalties for manufacturing methamphetamines and three other crime bills were signed into law Monday by Gov. Tony Knowles.
Rep. Tom Brice, D-Fairbanks, sponsored House Bill 3, tightening laws against possessing ingredients for methamphetamine, an addictive stimulant also known as meth or speed.
Brice said the new law will allow police to shut down dangerous, clandestine laboratories before they actually produce illegal drugs. Brice said the volatility of the meth ingredients have the potential to blow up and kill people in the neighborhood of the illegal labs.
Possessing certain chemicals will be a crime if prosecutors prove an intent to manufacture the illegal drug. Banned chemicals might include ephedrine, found in cold and diet tablets, and the materials used to cook it down for methamphetamine, such as acetone, hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, kerosene, or ethyl ether.
Brice's bill elevates the crime of manufacturing meth from a class B felony, which carries maximum 10 years imprisonment, to a class A felony, with a maximum sentence of 20 years in jail.
The bill also increases the penalties for the possession or distribution of ketamine hydrochloride. A synthetic drug developed as an anesthetic, ketamine is sometimes used as a ''date-rape'' pill.
Knowles also signed Senate Bill 259, sponsored by Sen. Robin Taylor, R-Wrangell, tightening laws pertaining to theft of identity. Knowles said the bill will help police prosecute crimes committed with computers and other high technology.
''It recognizes that theft of personal information, known as 'identity theft,' can damage people in financial loss and reputation, which is difficult to repair,'' Knowles said. ''Likewise, it updates laws dealing with theft through modern technology, false advertising, and the production and distribution of child pornography.''
The bill replaces ''credit card'' in Alaska's theft statutes with ''access device'' so the law clearly prohibits using identification and telephone numbers to commit fraud.
The bill also broadens the definition of criminal use of a computer to include obtaining proprietary information and introducing information that damages the computer.
Knowles said the Legislature failed to fund a state trooper position he requested to investigate and prosecute cybercrimes in cooperation with the FBI and Anchorage Police Department. Without funding for this position, Knowles said, the full effect of the law will not be immediately realized.
Knowles also signed:
-- SB 26, sponsored by Sen. Loren Leman, R-Anchorage, which makes it a misdemeanor for people under arrest to lie about their identity.
-- HB 288, sponsored by Rep. Pete Kott, R-Anchorage, which allows judges to hand down a more serious domestic violence sentence if the crime was committed in the presence of a child who lived in the home of the victim or where the crime occurred.
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