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Laws governing the initiative process in Alaska (archive)

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Ballot law
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State laws
Initiative law
Recall law
Statutory changes
Court cases
Lawsuit news
Ballot access rulings
Recent court cases
Petitioner access
Ballot title challenges
Superseding initiatives
Signature challenges
Laws governing
local ballot measures
Contents
1 Alaska Law
1.1 Prohibited initiative subjects
1.2 First steps
1.3 Review process
1.4 After certification
1.5 Deadlines
1.6 Number of signatures required
1.7 Special requirements
1.8 Restrictions on circulators
1.9 Legislative tampering
1.10 Campaign finance
1.11 See also
1.12 Related Alaska Law
1.13 External links
2 Changes to State Law

Citizens of Alaska may initiate legislation through the process of indirect initiative legislation. They may not amend their constitution or directly initiate legislation.

Prohibited initiative subjects

Alaska's initiative law specifically prohibits initiatives on certain subjects, in Article XI, Section 7 of the Alaska Constitution. Initiatives cannot:

  • Dedicate revenues;
  • Make or repeal appropriations;
  • Create courts;
  • Define the jurisdiction of courts or prescribe their rules;
  • Enact local or special legislation.

First steps

Proponents must first file an application with the Lieutenant Governor's office[1] and pay a deposit of $100 made payable to the State of Alaska. This deposit will be refunded when the petition is properly filed and the measure is certified. Proponents must file with the application a full copy of the proposed bill, in addition to 3 prime sponsors with a statement that they are the initiative committee representing all other sponsors. The signatures of at least 100 qualified voters who will serve as sponsors of the ballot measure for circulation purposes must also be submitted.

  • A copy of the proposed bill must be attached to each signature page.
  • Each signature page must contain a statement that the proposed bill was attached to the petition when the voter signed it.

Review process

After the application has been processed, it is the responsibility of the Lieutenant Governor to have the 100 signatures of qualified voters reviewed and verified by the Alaska Division of Elections. The application is then reviewed by the Alaska Department of Law. The Department of Law checks the application for legal content and advises the Lieutenant Governor on whether to deny or approve the application. The application will be denied if:

  • It is not in proper form.
  • Does not include all required elements.
  • There are an insufficient number of qualified voter sponsors.
  • The bill covers an issue restricted by the constitution. Under the Alaska constitution, ballot measures may not apply to:
  • dedicated revenues;
  • make or repeal appropriations;
  • create courts;
  • define jurisdiction of courts;
  • enact local Nominations or special obligations.

Additionally, the proposed bill must:

  • Cover only one subject.
  • The subject must contain the enacting clause "Be it enacted by the People of the State of Alaska."

After certification

The Lieutenant Governor will notify the sponsors of acceptance and include a copy of the Department of Law's formal legal opinion and impartial summary. The prime sponsors have the opportunity to review the impartial summary and the title of the bill. The Division of Elections is responsible for printing 500 petition booklets and the initial distribution of the booklets to each of the other qualified sponsors who will circulate the petition and gather signatures.

Petition booklets include:

  • a copy of the proposed bill (if 500 words or less);
  • an impartial summary of the subject matter of the bill;
  • a statement of minimum costs to the state associated with certification of the initiative application and review of the initiative petition, excluding legal costs to the state and the costs to the state of any challenge to the validity of the petition;
  • an estimate of the cost to the state of implementing the proposed law;
  • a statement of warning as prescribed in AS 15.45.100;
  • sufficient space for the printed name, a numerical identifer, the signature, the date of signature, and the address of each *person siging the petition; and
  • sufficient space at the bottom of each page for payment information required by AS 15.45.130;
  • other specifications prescribed by the Lieutenant Governor.

Referendum booklets include:

  • a copy of the Act to be referred (if 500 words or less);
  • the statement of approval or rejection;
  • an impartial summary of the subject matter of the act;
  • a statement of minimum costs to the state associated with certification of the initiative application and review of the initiative petition, excluding legal costs to the state and the costs to the state of any challenge to the validity of the petition;
  • an estimate of the cost to the state of voter approval or rejection of the act;
  • a statement of warning as prescribed in AS 15.45.330;

sufficient space for the printed name, a numerical identifier, the signature, the date of signature, and the address of each person signing the petition;

  • other specifications prescribed by the Lieutenant Governor.

Recall booklets include:

  • the name and office of the person to be recalled;
  • the statement of the grounds for recall included in the application;
  • a statement of minimum costs to the state associated with certification of the recall application and review of the recall petition, and concduct of a special election, excluding legal costs to the state and the costs to the state of any challenge to the validity of the petition;
  • an estimate of the cost to the state of recalling the official;
  • the statement of warning as required in AS 15.45.570;
  • sufficient space for the printed name, a numerical identifier, the signature, the date of signature, and the address of each person signing the petition;
  • other specifications prescribed by the director to ensure proper handling and control.
  • (b) Upon request of the recall committee, the lieutenant governor shall report to the committee the number of persons who voted in the preceding general election in the state or in the district of the official sought to be recalled by the recall committee.

Deadlines

The initiative language can be submitted to the state at any time. Once signatures are submitted, the Lieutenant Governor must review them within 60 days. If it is determined that enough valid signatures were collected, the initiative will be placed on the election ballot of the first statewide general, special or primary election that is held after the filing, a legislative session has convened or adjourned, and a period of 120 days has expired since the adjournment of a legislative session.

Number of signatures required

Main article: Alaska signature requirements

The number of signatures required is based on the total number of votes cast in the last general election. For both initiatives and referendums, signatures equal to 10% of these votes are required.

Year Initiated statute Veto referendum
2014 30,169 30,169
2012 25,875 25,875
2010 32,734 32,734
2008 23,831 23,831

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Alaska Statues, Sec. 15.45.140


Special requirements

Distribution requirement

See also: Distribution requirement

Alaska has a distribution requirement. An older, less restrictive, distribution requirement was changed via a legislatively referred ballot measure placed on the November 2004 ballot by the Alaska State Legislature, the Distribution Requirement for Initiatives Act.

That referred measure was approved with 51.7% of the vote. The older requirement was that initiatives must have petition signatures from at least one voter/signer in each of 2/3rds of Alaska's forty (40) state house districts, or 27 districts.

The newer requirement as passed in 2004 is that signers must be from at least 30 of the 40 house districts, an increase of 3.

Additionally, the 2004 change requires signatures from each of 30 districts to be at least equal to 7% of the voters who voted in each of these districts in the last general election. The previous requirement was that at least one voter needed to sign from each of at least 27 districts.

Circulation period

Proponents have one year from the day that they are notified that petition booklets are available for distribution to collect the required signatures.

Single-subject restriction

Alaska has a single-subject rule.

Restrictions on circulators

Residency

Main article: Residency requirements for petition circulators

Petitioners must be residents of the state. The specific requirement is:

"Qualified voters who sign the application are designated as sponsors, who may or may not circulate the petition. The initiative committe may designate additional circulators by giving their names and addresses in written notice to the Lieutenant Governor. [AS 15.45.060] If circulators designated by the initiative committee are not registered voters, they must sign a certificate of Alaska residency available from the Division of Elections."

Alaska is in the Ninth Circuit, which in 2008, struck down an Arizona residency requirement as unconstitutional in the case of Nader v. Brewer. Whether this federal decision would nullify the Alaska residency law as well is yet to be determined.

Age restrictions

Circulators must be 18 or older.

Compensation limits

Compensation for initiative circulators is limited to $1 per signature. Alaska is the only I&R state that sets a definite limit on how much a person can earn through collecting signatures.

Alaska State Representatives Kyle Johansen (R-Ketchikan) and Charisse Millett (R-Anchorage) introduced HB 36 in 2009 to make it illegal for initiative circulators to be paid on a per-signature basis. It would also make it illegal for initiative circulators to circulate more than one initiative at once.[2][3]

Legislative tampering

Main article: Legislative tampering

The legislature can amend a citizen initiative at any time, but can only outright repeal a statute passed by initiative after two years have elapsed since the time it became law.

Campaign finance

Main article: Campaign finance requirements for Alaska ballot measures

Some of the main features of Alaska's campaign finance laws include:

  • Alaska treats groups in support or opposition of a ballot measure differently from other political committees.
  • There are two different requirements for filing a statement of organization depending if a measure qualified on the ballot or not.
  • There is mandatory disclosure of campaign finance activity if in the event a group fails to get a petition for a ballot measure certified.
  • Corporations and labor unions are allowed to donate to campaigns in support or opposition of a ballot measure.

See also

Related Alaska Law

External links

References

Ballot law
BallotLaw final.png
State laws
Initiative law
Recall law
Statutory changes
Court cases
Lawsuit news
Ballot access rulings
Recent court cases
Petitioner access
Ballot title challenges
Superseding initiatives
Signature challenges
Laws governing
local ballot measures
Contents
1 Alaska Law
2 Changes to State Law
2.1 Proposed changes to ballot measure law
2.1.1 2011
2.1.2 2010

The following laws have been proposed which modify ballot measure law in Alaska.

Proposed changes to ballot measure law

2011

Changes in 2011 to laws governing ballot measures


2010

Changes in 2010 to laws governing ballot measures

The following proposals were made during the 2009-2010 session of the Alaska Legislature: