Alaska Coastal Management Question (August 2012)

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Coastal Management Question
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Type:indirect initiated state statute
Topic:Environment
Status:On the ballot
The Alaska Coastal Management Question will appear on the August 28, 2012 ballot in the state of Alaska as an indirect initiated state statute. The measure would establish a new coastal management program in the state. It was submitted to the Lieutenant Governor's office during the week of October 5, 2011 by Juneau Mayor Bruce Botelho and other supporters of the initiative. Specifically, the management program that would be established would be formally called the Alaska Coastal Zone Management Program.[1]

Alaska is the only coastal state in the country without a federal coastal management plan, according to reports. Coastal programs are established to guarantee state and local participation in federal decisions on coastal issues that could potentially surface.[2]

Support

Supporters

The following is information obtained from the supporting side of the measure:

  • The Alaska Federation of Natives came out in support of the measure.
  • The United Fishermen of Alaska are also supporters.[3]

Arguments

  • According to Bruce Botelho about the purpose behind his proposal: “When the old program expired, Alaskans lost their say in how we manage our coastal resources. We introduced this initiative because Alaskans deserve a voice in what happens in our waters and industry deserves a predictable, streamlined process for developing Alaska’s coastal resources."[4]
    • Botelho also argued: "By allowing the program to expire Alaska has lost one very effective tool in helping to shape what happens on federal land and offshore under federal management. The Coastal Zone Management Act is actually the only federal law that requires the federal government to submit to local review and state review of land activities."[5]
  • North Slope Borough Mayor Edward Itta stated: “Coastal management never stopped a project in the past. It just gave communities a stake in the project. What’s not to like about that?”[2]
  • According to House Democratic Leader Beth Kerttula: "Alaska is the only coastal state without a coastal zone program, and to have a state with the largest coastal zone in the nation not have a program was just really disheartening to me."

Campaign contributions

According to reports, the campaign in favor of the measure has so far raised $59,000 as of December 29, 2011. The following chart contains donors who have contributed $500 or more towards the campaign, run by the Alaska Sea Party.[6]

Donor Amount
North Slope Borough $25,000
Aleutian Pribilof Islands Community Development Assoc. Joint Venture $10,000
Alaska Conference of Mayors $10,000
Alaska Municipal League $5,000
Western Alaska Community Development Association $5,000
Bristol Bay Borough $4,000

Tactics and strategies

  • According to supporters of the proposal, the campaign to place the measure on the ballot could cost approximately $150,000.[7]
  • Reports out of the state have stated that those behind the initiative, the Alaska Sea Party, are aiming to collect about 26,000 signatures in order for the measure to be considered by the state legislature. According to Mako Haggerty, sponsor of the initiative, "We have more coastline than any other state, yet now Alaska is the only state whose citizens don’t have a say in how their coastal resources are managed. That has to change. We’re making every effort to restore Alaskans' voice as soon as possible.”[8]
  • Bruce Botelho, chairperson of the supporting Alaska Sea Party group, used the newspapers in the state to send his group's message out. In a column published by the Alaska Dispatch, Botelho stated:[9]
"The ability to affect federal actions such as offshore oil and gas leasing and activities on federal land was a major reason Alaska established a coastal program over 30 years ago. Today, the federal government retains ownership of about 60 percent of Alaska lands, much of it along the coast. Considerable offshore activity permitted by federal agencies occurs beyond the state’s three-mile limit. The state coastal program needs to be revived because it provides the means for the state and local coastal communities to substantively influence federal actions that are otherwise out of state and local government jurisdiction. With a new, improved coastal management program, Alaskans can regain their voices and once again have control over our coastal lands, waters, and resources."

Opposition

The following is information obtained from the opposing side of the measure:

Opponents

  • The campaign against the measure is called No on Ballot Measure 2.
    • According to reports, the group was formed by organizations including the Alaska Oil and Gas Association, Alaska Miners Association and Resource Development Council for Alaska.[10]

Arguments

  • Willis Lyford, spokesman for the "Vote No on Ballot Measure 2" coalition, stated, "Our group is not opposed to all coastal zone management, we think there is a place for responsible and effective management of our coastal resources." However, Lyford added that the measure is "a real step backwards."[11]
  • Alaska Governor Sean Parnell was reported to have been "lukewarm" to renewing the coastal management program. Parnell stated that some proposed versions of the coastal program in the Alaska Legislature would have been detrimental to development by giving too much power to local communities. According to later reports, however, Parnell stated that the measure should be decided by voters.[5][12]
  • Alaska Miners Association director Deantha Crockett stated that the measure would have a negative impact on the mining industry in the state. Crockett elaborated by saying that the measure would allow appointed officials to negatively influence certain state permits that would ultimately stunt major developments in the mining industry. [10]
  • Kurt Fredriksson, chairman of the Vote No on Ballot Measure 2 committee, "Clearly, Alaska needs a stronger voice in federal decision making. Unfortunately, with this initiative and the Coastal Policy Board that is going to be created, the governor is nowhere to be seen. He gets to select from names provided by the regions, but he doesn’t sit on the board."[13]

Media endorsements

Legislative approval endorsement

  • The Juneau Empire editorial board advocated for the Alaska Legislature to pass the measure instead of letting it go to voters in November 2012. The editorial board stated: "Dark prospects for legislation have been lightened unexpectedly before, and we’re hoping this is one of those occasions. We ask the Legislature to find a way in the limited time remaining to spare Alaska a divisive, distorted campaign and come together on a plan for the waters surrounding Alaska."[14]

Controversies and events

Campaign financing

  • On January 20, 2012, Rep. Kyle Johansen requested that organizers of the petition effort, The Alaska Sea Party, release their contribution list earlier than what the state mandates. According to Johansen, the group was indeed following the law, but also claimed the importance of state legislators knowing who is funding the initiative effort. Johansen is sponsoring a bill in 2012 state legislative session that would change disclosure laws in the state.[15]

Petition circulation

  • During the month of April 2012, Deborah A. Carroll, from Fairbanks, was charged with three felonies and two misdemeanors regarding fraudulent petition signatures. According to reports, Carroll admitted to state troopers that she filled out petitions by looking up names in a phone book. The Alaska Sea Party, who is the organization leading the initiative, brought the fraud to the attention of the state Department of Law when they noticed the signatures. No signatures were counted in the verification process, therefore still making the initiative valid.[16]

Governor's veto of funding

During the week of May 17, 2012, it was reported that Alaska Governor Sean Parnell vetoed funding for a new Coastal Management program, if the initiative is approved by voters. According to reports, that means that if the initiative is enacted, it will take about a year to start the program up.

According to State Representative Beth Kerttula, who supporters the measure, "You need to have money there to get that program up and running. To cut that seems spiteful to me."

However, on the other hand, according to Gov. Parnell, “In our state’s history, to our knowledge, we have never pre-funded an initiative."[17]

Reports and Analysis

The following are reports and analysis done on the measure:

  • According to Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell, if enacted, the measure could cost the state $5.4 million each year. The estimate is part of Treadwell's duties as Lieutenant Governor of the state. According to Treadwell: "We feel fairly confident that the cost estimate we had of about $5.4 million a year. I’m required by law to do this. I’m not taking a position on the initiative. I’m an impartial election official."[18]

Path to the ballot

See also: Laws governing the initiative process in Alaska

The Lieutenant Governor had until December 6, 2011 to either approve or reject the petition. After approval for signature gathering, supporters must then collect 25,875 signatures by the January 17, 2012 petition drive deadline.[19]

The Alaska Elections Division, along with the Department of Law, took 60 days to review and approve the initiative for signature gathering, leaving a small window for supporters to collect the required 25,875 signatures for ballot access.[20]

According to Assistant Attorney General Elizabeth Bakalar, when commenting on the lengthy review of the initiative: “The full 60 days allowed by law was required to give the bill the due diligence necessary."

Despite approval for signature collection, supporters did not receive pamphlets needed to begin collecting signatures immediately. According to reports, the Division of Elections was waiting on cost estimates from the Lieutenant Governor’s office before pamphlets were given to initiative sponsors.[21]

On December 21, 2011, the pamphlets were issued by the Division of Elections.[22]

Signature gathering

See also: Collecting signatures in Alaska

Supporters at the time before the petition drive deadline told media outlets in the state that they had signatures gatherers across the state circulating petitions. According to Bruce Botelho, sponsor of the initiative, "We’re of course trying to collect the required signatures before the legislature convenes, so that we have a chance to have the 2012 legislature deal with the issue. And absent that be able to have it on the ballot in August."[23]

On January 17, 2012, the day of the deadline, supporters turned in 33,500 signatures to the Alaska Division of Elections office. The signatures then went under verification. According to reports, the Division of Elections had 60 days to verify signatures before sending it legislature.[24]

State law mandated that a hearing be held within 30 days after the start of a state legislative session in a statewide election year where potential initiatives would appear on the ballot. The House and Senate judiciary committees held a hearing on the measure, according to reports on January 23, 2012.[25]

Verification process

On January 31, 2012, it was reported that a computer analysis on the initiative efforts collected signatures found that 20,200 signatures were valid, below the required number. However, the Alaska Division of Elections office stated that the process of verifying the signatures was not over yet. According to the analysis, 11,500 signatures were unqualified. However, the state did more research on those signatures. Signatures were approved in early-February.[26]

House

On February 17, 2012, a bill similar to the initiative was introduced to the Alaska House of Representatives. According to reports, the action indicated that lawmakers were keen on enacting legislation rather than having the proposal sent to voters. Reports also say that at least eight House lawmakers signed on to the bill.[27]

Ballot

Despite advances of similar legislation, the measure failed to be enacted during 2012 legislative session, sending it to the August 2012 ballot.[28]

See also

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External links

Additional reading

References

  1. Alaska Dispatch, "Will Alaska voters establish a new coastal management program?", October 10, 2011
  2. 2.0 2.1 Alaska Dispatch, "Alaska Coastal Zone Management initiative gains momentum", November 4, 2011
  3. Juneau Empire, "Fishing industry backs restoration of Coastal Management", November 2, 2011
  4. Sitenews.us, "Initiative gives Alaskans a say in federal coastal development decisions", October 12, 2011
  5. 5.0 5.1 Sacramento Bee, "Alaska's beluga whales case hurt by loss of coast zone program", October 31, 2011
  6. Alaska Dispatch, "Coastal program initiative takes in at least $59,000 so far", December 29, 2011
  7. The Republic, "Proponents of coastal zone initiative expect campaign to cost $150,000", December 7, 2011
  8. Alaska Dispatch, "Coastal zone initiative sponsors attempting record campaign", December 23, 2011
  9. Alaska Dispatch, "Alaska needs a Coastal Management program", January 5, 2012
  10. 10.0 10.1 Anchorage Daily News, "Business groups join to fight coastal zone ballot measure", June 6, 2012
  11. Juneau Empire, "Coastal Management ballot measure gets a foe", June 10, 2012
  12. The Republic, "Parnell: The people should decide whether Alaska has a coastal management program", February 14, 2012
  13. Juneau Empire, "Coastal Management debate produces agreement", June 15, 2012
  14. Juneau Empire, "Empire editorial: There's still time for the Legislature to act on Coastal Management", April 1, 2012
  15. Juneau Empire, "Rep. wants release of coastal zone donors", January 22, 2012
  16. Juneau Empire, "Sea Party gatherer charged with signature fraud", April 3, 2012
  17. Peninsula Clarion, "Veto may delay Coastal Management startup", May 17, 2012
  18. KTUU.com, "Coastal Management Could Cost State $5.4 Million Per Year", December 19, 2011
  19. Juneau Empire, "Coastal Management gets AFN endorsement", October 26, 2011
  20. Juneau Empire, "Coastal Management faces tight deadline to make 2012 ballot", December 8, 2012
  21. Alaska Public, "ACMP Initiative Sponsors Frustrated By Delays", December 15, 2011
  22. Alaska Public, "Petition To Restore Coastal Zone Management Hits Streets", December 22, 2011
  23. Alaska Public, "ACMP Initiative Backers Scramble To Get Signature", January 3, 2012
  24. The Alaska News, "Resources Management Plan for Coast A Go", Retrieved January 23, 2012
  25. The Republic, "Joint legislative hearing to be held on proposed coastal management initiative", January 23, 2012
  26. The Republic, "Computer analysis done on coastal zone signatures but director says process far from over", January 31, 2012
  27. Homer News, "Bill shows interest by lawmakers for coastal program", February 22, 2012
  28. Anchorage Daily News, "Coastal zone initiative to be on primary ballot", April 18, 2012