Tammie Willis speaks at the LGTBQ Town Hall at the Soldotna Public Library in Soldotna on Jan. 4. (Brian Mazurek | Peninsula Clarion)

Tammie Willis speaks at the LGTBQ Town Hall at the Soldotna Public Library in Soldotna on Jan. 4. (Brian Mazurek | Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai to vote on resolution in support of hate crime legislation

A state bill looking to expand hate crime protections to include crimes motivated by the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity may see support from the city of Kenai.

At its Wednesday meeting, the Kenai City Council will hold a public hearing and vote on a resolution, sponsored by council member Tim Navarre and vice mayor Bob Molloy, supporting state House Bill 198. The bill would add “sexual orientation and gender identity” to the list of aggravating factors considered at sentencing.

The resolution says Kenai is a “diverse community with residents who fall along the full range of sexual orientation and gender identity spectrums,” and cites a series of “escalating incidents of harassment and assault” on the central peninsula that led to the proposed legislation.

The Soldotna City Council passed a similar resolution at its Jan. 22 meeting.

State statute 12.55.155(c)(22) currently defines an aggravating factor for hate crimes as “the defendant knowingly directed the conduct constituting the offense at a victim because of that person’s race, sex, color, creed, physical or mental disability, ancestry, or national origin,” but does not include sexual orientation or gender identity as an aggravating factor for sentencing of a person convicted of the crime, the resolution said.

Tammie Willis, a local advocate for the LGBTQ community and Soldotna Pride in the Park organizer, experienced several instances of harassment earlier this winter. Her experience led to a Jan. 4 town hall meeting focused on public safety and addressed threats LGBTQ people face in the area, which brought out an audience of more than 100 people.

After the town hall, Rep. Andy Josephson, D-Anchorage, introduced HB 198.

Josephson’s bill would amend statute to expand hate protections to include sexual orientation or gender identity.

“The fundamental civil and human rights of all individuals should be upheld regardless of a person’s race, sex, color, creed, disability, ancestry, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity,” the resolution said. “Criminal offenses motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity have no place in our community.”

Copies of the Kenai City Council resolution, if passed, will be sent to Rep. Gary Knopp, R-Kenai/Soldotna, Rep. Ben Carpenter, R-Nikiski, Rep. Sarah Vance, R-Homer, and Sen. Peter Micciche, R-Kenai/Soldotna.

More in News

Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion
Alexis Alamillo, of Anchorage, carries a sockeye salmon caught in a dipnet from the mouth of the Kenai River on Wednesday.
Kenai River dipnetting now open 24 hours a day

The liberalization of fishing regulation was effective starting Thursday evening

A drone rises into the air while kicking up dust, departing on a test flight for the use of beyond visual line of sight drone aircraft, at Furie Operating Alaska’s central processing facility in Nikiski, Alaska, on Wednesday, July 10, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Drone test flight operates beyond visual line of sight between Nikiski and a Cook Inlet platform

The drone could perform deliveries to and from Cook Inlet platforms

A map of Lower Skilak Campground shows the areas that will be closed in July and August 2024. (Graphic provided by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
Areas of Lower Skilak Campground to close for repair starting Monday

The East Loop will be closed — projected to be reopened at noon on Aug. 4

Kenai Courthouse is photographed on Feb. 26, 2019, in Kenai, Alaska. (Clarion file)
Sterling resident sentenced to 30 years in prison for sexual abuse of minors

Additionally, Crane will face 15 years of supervised probation as well as sex offender registration and treatment

Shrubs grow outside of the Kenai Courthouse on Monday, July 3, 2023 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Former Soldotna police officer acquitted of 2023 assault allegations

He was found not guilty following a five-day trial in late June

A parade of cars and trucks flying flags in support of former President Donald Trump proceed down the Kenai Spur Highway in Kenai, Alaska, on Sunday, July 14, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Residents caravan across central peninsula in support of Trump

The parade came a day after an attempted assassination of the former president

Drummers perform during a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Dena’ina Wellness Center in Kenai, Alaska, on Friday, July 12, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenaitze tribe celebrates 10 years of ‘far-fetched dream’ at wellness center

Community members recognized the work done at the Dena’ina Wellness Center over the past decade

The Kenai Safeway is seen on Wednesday, July 20, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai and Soldotna Safeways may be sold under proposed Kroger-Albertsons merger

The local stores will be sold to CS Wholesale Grocers only if the merger overcomes suit from the FTC

Sockeye salmon caught in a set gillnet are dragged up onto the beach at a test site for selective harvest setnet gear in Kenai, Alaska, on Tuesday, July 25, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Draft plan published for disbursement of $11.5 million in 2021 and 2022 ESSN disasters

Public comment will be accepted for the draft spend plan until July 24

Most Read