‘No-sell’ list of Anchorage drinkers, money for treatment win Senate support

A $5 million proposal that includes plans to create a “no-sell list” of people banned from buying alcohol in Anchorage has cleared a key hurdle, winning support from the Senate Finance Committee.

The committee included the project, which also calls for comprehensive treatment and case management for the city’s costliest problem drinkers, in the $1.9 billion capital budget unveiled today. The proposal by the Fairview Business Association must also pass the state House and escape veto by Gov. Sean Parnell.

“I was almost in tears and dancing in my office this morning,” said Christopher Constant, a board member for the association and an administrator for Akeela Inc., which would oversee the services.

Read more about the proposal here on the State of Intoxication blog, and in Julia O’Malley’s weekend opinion column.

If the project survives budget rewrites, a thorny question remains: How do you decide who should be on the no-sell list? Health and civil rights questions abound. Advocates for the homeless warn that sudden withdrawal from alcohol can be dangerous, even fatal.

Constant said his group is asking for feedback on the task of setting the criteria for the ban, which may fall to the city Assembly.

“What … would meet community standards but at the same time be acceptable to the ACLU?” Constant said.

The no-sell list would be citywide, though it’s being championed by Fairview business owners who have long sought to reduce public drinking, panhandling and crime in the neighborhood.

Constant said his group is busy presenting the idea to community councils across the city.

No public meeting on the no-sell list idea, specifically, was held before the proposal appeared on the Senate budget today. Fairview lobbyist Paul Fuhs testified Thursday on the spending plan, according to committee minutes, calling for state alcohol tax money to be used to fund the effort.

The statewide bar, liquor store and restaurant association Alaska CHARR has not taken a position on the Fairview proposal, president Dale Fox wrote in an email. ”In part,” he explained, “because it has changed several times and lacks a level of specifics that would allow us to reasonably evaluate its effectiveness.”

The proposed capital budget also includes $600,000 to First Alaskans Institute, with some of the spending intended for the “natural helpers” program that Finance Co-Chair Pete Kelly has said is part of his fetal alcohol syndrome prevention plan.

Originally published April 7, 2014 by Kyle Hopkins in Anchorage Daily News.