Bill vetoed that would prevent
implementation of same-sex benefits
Vows to Work with Legislature
December 29, 2006
Alaska Governor Sarah Palin vetoed a bill which would prevent
the Commissioner of Administration from implementing a court
order to provide same-sex benefits without first getting specific
statutory authority from the legislature. Palin vetoed HB4001
late Thursday afternoon under the authority vested in her by
Article 11, Section 15 of the Alaska Constitution. This is the
Governor's first veto.
"The Department of Law advised me that this bill, HB4001,
is unconstitutional given the recent Court order of December
19th, mandating same-sex benefits," said Governor Sarah
Palin. "With that in mind, signing this bill would be in
direct violation of my oath of office."
HB4001 passed during the special session of the Legislature in
the final month of the Murkowski administration. The bill prohibited
the commissioner of the department of administration from adopting
same-sex regulations, allowing them to become law, or implementing
them. In the Department of Law opinion passed along to the Governor,
Attorney General Talis Colberg writes, "the bill effectively
eliminated the regulatory process as a way to comply with the
Court's order to provide same-sex domestic partner benefits for
state employees and members of state retirement systems."
Colberg further states that the December 19, 2006 order is "legally
sufficient to authorize the commission of administration to expand
state employee health benefits or change the retirement systems
to provide benefits for same-sex domestic partners."
The Governor's veto does not signal any change or modification
to her disagreement with the action and order by the Alaska Supreme
Court. It is the Governor's intention to work with the legislature
and to give the people of Alaska an opportunity to express their
wishes and intentions whether these benefits should continue.
"The Supreme Court has
ordered adoption of the regulations by the State of Alaska to
begin providing benefits January 1," said Governor Palin
on December 20th at which time she announced that the recent
ruling of the Supreme Court of Alaska, the State of Alaska's
regulations were in effect to begin providing state benefits
to same sex partners beginning January 1, 2007.. "We have
no more judicial options. We may disagree with the rationale
behind the ruling, but our responsibility is to proceed forward
with the law and follow the Constitution."
In addition to adoption of
the regulations on December 20th, Governor Palin signed HB4002,
which calls for a statewide advisory vote, proposed by the Legislature
during its November special session.
"I disagree with the recent court decision because I feel
as though Alaskans spoke on this issue with its overwhelming
support for a Constitutional Amendment in 1998 which defined
marriage as between a man and woman. But the Supreme Court has
spoken and the state will abide," said the Governor on
The Court-ordered regulations are already in effect in accordance
with the December 19th order.
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