Two Initiative Petitions Properly Filed
By MARY KAUFFMAN
March 18, 2018
“I have determined that the initiative sponsors have timely filed the petition and that the petition is signed by qualified voters (1) equal in number to 10 percent of those who voted in the preceding general election; (2) resident in at least three-fourths of the house districts in the state; and (3) who, in each of the house districts are equal in number to at least seven percent of those who voted in the preceding general election in the house district,” Lt. Gov. Mallott wrote. Initiative Petition List
Currently, there is active litigation over 17FSH2, “An Act providing for protection of wild salmon and fish and wildlife habitat.” The case is on appeal to the Alaska Supreme Court. Oral arguments will be held in Anchorage on April 26, 2018. The Division of Elections must wait until the Supreme Court rules on the case before moving ahead with final ballot preparations for that specific initiative.
However, in accordance with state statute, the Director of the Alaska Division of Elections "shall" place the ballot title and proposition on the ballot of the first statewide general, special or primary election that is held after a period of 120 days has expired since the adjournment of the legislative session. Barring any unforeseen special election or a change in the date of adjournment of the current legislative session, the initiatives would appear on the ballot for the August 21, 2018 Primary Election. If the primary election takes place 120 days or less after the regular legislative session adjourns, then the initiatives would appear in the November General Election.
[Updated 03/19/18] Stand for Alaska (SFA), a group organize in opposition to the proposed state ballot initiative that would overhaul fish habitat regulations released a prepared statement in response to the initiative petition announcement by the Lt. Governor.
Stand for Alaska (SFA) campaign manager Kati Capozzi said, “We have long expected this measure to be approved to go before Alaska voters later this year."
Capozzi said, “This misguided and poorly written ballot measure is ripe with unintended consequences that will cause havoc in Alaska’s communities and in how we live our lives, both in urban and rural Alaska. It’s clear the language of this measure puts important development projects at risk. But, it also negatively impacts public infrastructure projects such as roads, airports, ports, pipelines and wastewater treatment facilities."
“We look forward to a robust discussion in the coming months so voters will learn that this proposed ballot measure is not what it claims to be. Our job will be to help voters understand the negative impacts this flawed proposal will have on Alaska and Alaskans,” said Capozzi.
The group Stand for Alaska (SFA) is a broad statewide coalition, including Alaska Native corporations, trade unions, business and industry organizations and a growing coalition of Alaskans concerned about the state’s economic future. [End of Update]
Nearly 42,000 signatures were verified from all 40 legislative districts for the Salmon Initiative, the first time in at least 15 years that a ballot initiative has surpassed the minimum signatures required in every district according to ballot initiative sponsors. The initiative would update an ineffective state law governing development in salmon habitat. It’s now slated for a vote later this year.
“Alaskans have spoken and the message is clear: salmon is our way of life, a cornerstone of our culture and economy. Economic development is necessary, but protecting salmon habitat is too,” said Stephanie Quinn-Davidson, Yes for Salmon ballot sponsor and director of the Yukon River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission. “We understand what it’s like to experience serious declines in salmon runs – we’ve seen it in king runs statewide - and that's for reasons that are out of our control. Promoting responsible development is something we can control and is the most important proactive step we can take to keep our runs strong. And now we officially have the chance to vote on this critical issue.”
“The people have spoken -- they want every Alaskan to vote on this issue,” said Ryan Schryver, campaign director for Stand for Salmon, one of the organizations working to update this particular law. “Leaders across the state can now see how important this issue is to all Alaskans.”
The ballot initiative updates Alaska’s aging permitting laws around salmon habitat, strengthening protections for Alaska’s salmon through clear, science-based development guidelines that would bring accountability and public input to large development projects.
“This initiative was specifically designed to ensure that vital rural infrastructure projects – roads, airports, pipelines and sewer and water facilities can move forward, while our salmon runs and salmon fishing economy is also protected,” said Mike Wood, Yes for Salmon ballot sponsor and a setnet fisherman in Cook Inlet.
The salmon fishing industry provides jobs for nearly 30,000 Alaskans and generates $2 billion in economic activity, while the fishing industry in Alaska provides $722 million dollars in taxes annually that help pay for schools, police, health care and infrastructure.
If the Alaska Legislative session ends on time, the Salmon initiative will be bound for the primary election. If the Legislature goes into a special session, the initiative is expected to appear on a ballot in the general election.
In a summary provided by the Alaska Department of Elections, “The Alaska Government Accountability Act,” known as “17AKGA”, would restrict a legislator from taking or withholding official action that would help or harm the financial interests of certain people. These people include a legislator's family, employer, potential employer, and anyone from whom the legislator or his or her immediate family earned more than $10,000 in the prior year. The act would require a legislator to declare conflicts of interest before voting in a legislative committee. And it would require a legislator to ask to be excused from voting in the legislature if the legislator has a financial conflict.
The act would prevent lobbyists from offering or giving legislators gifts of alcoholic drinks or significant food.
The act would ban legislators from receiving per diem after the first 121 days of a regular legislative session, until they pass a budget bill or the next regular session begins.
“The Alaska Government Accountability Act" would also prohibit the state from paying for foreign travel by legislators, unless it clearly benefits the state and serves a legislative purpose. The bill would also restrict money that foreign-influenced corporations could spend to influence a state or local candidate election. The Alaska Public Offices Commission would adopt regulations to enforce this part of the act.
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