Policies shape our environment and experiences, and there are many examples of evidence-based policies that work to create a safer and healthier place to be. Advocacy for these best practice policies is a large part of the work of Recover Alaska, at the local, state, and federal level.
Due to the massive power imbalance big alcohol has and their efforts to convince the public that all harms of alcohol are individual rather than systemic, solutions to combating big alcohol must be grounded in the same firm beliefs as the fight for equity: fiery activism, relentless hope, and unyielding resistance. In the words of Angela Davis, “you have to act as if it were possible to radically transform the world. And you have to do it all the time.”
Over the years, Recover Alaska has successfully advocated for changes to minor consumption laws, the composition of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, led the passage of an alcohol tax in Anchorage, and most recently won a ten-year effort to overhaul Title 4, which encompasses all of Alaska’s laws about alcohol.
On October 15, 2020, Recover Alaska hosted an advocacy training led by three industry leaders that discussed the following:
- Differences between education and lobbying to help understand what is legal for nonprofit organizations, from Mike Walsh with Foraker Group
- Coaching on how to tell your personal story in a way that is compelling, connected to a solution, and succinct, from Teri Tibbett with the Alaska Mental
- Health Trust Authority/Advisory Board on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse
- Explanation of requirements around reporting, from Tom Lucas with Alaska Public Offices Commission
Anchorage Alcohol Tax and the Theory of Positive Change
In April 2020, Anchorage voters passed a new sales tax on alcoholic beverages sold in the Municipality, with the revenue dedicated as new funding toward specific issues:
- Increasing community safety [“police, related criminal justice personnel, and first responders”];
- Reducing and preventing child abuse, sexual assault and domestic violence; and
- Prevention and treatment of substance misuse, mental health issues, and homelessness.
Not highlighted in the ballot measure or early discussions, but deeply relevant to the discussion, is the consideration of equity in our community: how structural racism and other systemic barriers impact some people in our community more than others. By eliminating race-based disparities in health and well-being, Anchorage will be a safer and healthier community for everyone.
Every fall, Recover Alaska, with our partners, advocates for appropriate usage of these dollars in the Municipal budget. Learn more about our efforts, the theory of positive change, and how the effect of the Anchorage Alcohol Tax by clicking below.
Title 4 ReWrite
On May 17, 2012, the Alaska Alcoholic Beverage Control Board convened a meeting to discuss needed changes to Title 4, Alaska’s alcohol statutes. A steering committee and subcommittees of stakeholders were formed to discuss issues and form recommendations about: Licensing and Permits, Underage Drinking, Role of the ABC Board, Internet Sales, and Local Option Laws. This stakeholder group grew and changed over time, developing a comprehensive set of changes to state statutes intended to solve many, many issues the ABC Board and others have dealt with over the years, modernize and clean up our state’s alcohol laws, and make Title 4 work better for everyone.
After ten years of hard work from many committee members, on May 15, 2022, Senate Bill 9—the comprehensive package of changes that the group began developing in 2012—passed the Alaska House, with a successful concurrence vote the next day on May 16. The bill will become law in the next few weeks, sponsored by Senator Peter Micciche.
Read more about the efforts, Recover Alaska’s role, and understand the public health and safety benefits of this law by clicking below.