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Difference between revisions of "History of Initiative & Referendum in Alaska"

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The '''History of Initiative & Referendum in Alaska''' began in 1959 when it became the 20th state to adopt a statewide [[initiative]] process.  [[Alaska Initiative Law|Alaska's law]] allows for {{iissfull}}s (laws) and for a [[veto referendum]] (to overturn laws passed by the [[Alaska State Legislature]]).  However, Alaska voters do not have the right to make appropriations or [[constitutional amendment|amend]] the state [[Alaska Constitution|constitution]].
 
The '''History of Initiative & Referendum in Alaska''' began in 1959 when it became the 20th state to adopt a statewide [[initiative]] process.  [[Alaska Initiative Law|Alaska's law]] allows for {{iissfull}}s (laws) and for a [[veto referendum]] (to overturn laws passed by the [[Alaska State Legislature]]).  However, Alaska voters do not have the right to make appropriations or [[constitutional amendment|amend]] the state [[Alaska Constitution|constitution]].
  
The right of [[initiative]] is spelled out in [[Article XI, Alaska Constitution|Article XI]] of the [[Alaska Constitution]] under, "The people may propose and enact laws by the initiative, and approve or reject acts of the legislature by [[referendum]]."<ref name=history>[http://www.elections.alaska.gov/inithist.php History explains the advent of initiative petitions]</ref>
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The right of [[initiative]] is spelled out in [[Article XI, Alaska Constitution|Article XI]] of the [[Alaska Constitution]] under, "The people may propose and enact laws by the initiative, and approve or reject acts of the legislature by [[referendum]]."
  
From [[:Category:Alaska 1960 ballot measures|1960]], the first year Alaskans voted on an initiative, through the [[Alaska 2008 ballot measures|August 26, 2008 statewide primary]], Alaskans considered a total of 45 statewide initiatives, approving 22 and rejecting 23.  (This count doesn't include [[veto referendum|veto referenda]] or [[legislative referral]]s.)
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From [[:Category:Alaska 1960 ballot measures|1960]], the first year Alaskans voted on an initiative, through the [[Alaska 2014 ballot measures|November 4, 2014 general election]], Alaskans considered a total of 51 statewide initiatives, approving 27 and rejecting 24.  (This count doesn't include [[veto referendum|veto referenda]] or [[legislative referral]]s.)
  
 
{|class="wikitable" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="5" border="1" style="background:none" style="width:40%;"
 
{|class="wikitable" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="5" border="1" style="background:none" style="width:40%;"
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|-
 
|-
| align="center" | 22
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| align="center" | 27
| align="center" | 23
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| align="center" | 24
| align="center" | 49%
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| align="center" | 53%
| align="center" | 51%
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| align="center" | 47%
 
|}
 
|}
 
==Moving the state capital==
 
==Moving the state capital==
 
[[Image:Alaska State Capitol.jpg|thumb|250px|Alaska Capitol, still in Juneau]]
 
[[Image:Alaska State Capitol.jpg|thumb|250px|Alaska Capitol, still in Juneau]]
Citizens have attempted to relocate the capital from Juneau to Anchorage 5 times through the initiative process.  In 1974 voters approved an initiative to relocate the state capitol. Without an appropriation, this decision could be implemented only if the legislature acted. Since the legislature failed to respond, voters passed another initiative in 1978, this time requiring the state government to determine the cost of relocation and stipulating that any [[bond issue]] to finance that cost be subject to voter approval.  The bond issue went to the voters in 1980, but they rejected it, with the result that Juneau is still the state capital, despite its great distance from the major population center, Anchorage.
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Citizens have attempted to relocate the capital from Juneau to Anchorage 5 times through the initiative process.  In 1974, voters approved an initiative to relocate the state capitol. Without an appropriation, this decision could be implemented only if the legislature acted. Since the legislature failed to respond, voters passed another initiative in 1978, this time requiring the state government to determine the cost of relocation and stipulating that any [[bond issue]] to finance that cost be subject to voter approval.  The bond issue went to the voters in 1980, but they rejected it, resulting in Juneau remaining the state capital, despite its great distance from the major population center of Anchorage.
  
 
==Unicameral advisory vote==
 
==Unicameral advisory vote==
  
In 1972, [[Alaska]]ns voted in favor of an [[Alaska Advisory Vote on Unicameral Legislature (1972)|Advisory Vote on a Unicameral Legislature]].  The vote was approved but the [[Alaska State Legislature|legislature]] declined to place the requested [[constitutional amendment]] on the ballot for a statewide vote.
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In 1972, [[Alaska]]ns voted in favor of an [[Alaska Advisory Vote on Unicameral Legislature (1972)|Advisory Vote on a Unicameral Legislature]].  The vote was approved, but the [[Alaska State Legislature|legislature]] declined to place the requested [[constitutional amendment]] on the ballot for a statewide vote.
  
 
==Abolishing the state income tax==
 
==Abolishing the state income tax==
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:: ''See also: [[List of veto referenda in Alaska]]''
 
:: ''See also: [[List of veto referenda in Alaska]]''
  
Alaskan voters have turned to the [[veto referendum]] three times.  The first occasion was in [[Alaska Voter Registration Referendum (1968)|1968, with the Voter Registration Referendum]].  The second was in [[Alaska Compensation Referendum (1975)|1975, with the Legislative Compensation Referendum]], and the third was the [[Alaska Land-And-Shoot Referendum, Measure 6 (2000)|Land-and-Shoot Referendum]] in 2000.
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Alaskan voters have turned to the [[veto referendum]] process four times.  The first occasion was in [[Alaska Voter Registration Referendum (1968)|1968, with the Voter Registration Referendum]].  The second was in [[Alaska Compensation Referendum (1975)|1975, with the Legislative Compensation Referendum]], the third was the [[Alaska Land-And-Shoot Referendum, Measure 6 (2000)|Land-and-Shoot Referendum]] in 2000 and the fourth was in 2014 with the [[Alaska Oil Tax Cuts Veto Referendum, Ballot Measure 1 (August 2014)|Oil Tax Cuts Referendum]].
  
 
==Legislative support of the I&R process==
 
==Legislative support of the I&R process==
  
In 1997 the Alaska elections division posted an article on its website that took a decidedly negative viewpoint on the [[initiative]] process, listing an array of reasons that people can not be trusted to enact legislation, even while citing there has been no evidence in that effect.  The report takes care to call the direct democracy a "buyer beware" system and quoting John Jacobs' opinion that many initiatives are special interests masquerading as the people.<ref name=history/>
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In 1997 the Alaska elections division posted an article on its website that took a decidedly negative viewpoint on the [[initiative]] process, listing an array of reasons that people can not be trusted to enact legislation, even while citing there has been no evidence proving this.  The report takes care to call the direct democracy a "buyer beware" system and quoting John Jacobs' opinion that many initiatives are special interests masquerading as the people.<ref name=history>[http://www.elections.alaska.gov/inithist.php History explains the advent of initiative petitions] ''([[dead link]])''</ref>
  
In 2004, the [[Alaska House of Representatives]] passed legislation which took steps to complicate the state's initiative process by requiring a "wider range" of voters be involved in the process. It added a [[distribution requirement]], so that [[valid signature|signatures]] henceforth must be be obtained from [[Residency requirements for petition circulators|residents]] in at least three-quarters of the House Districts in [[Alaska]]. Additionally, the signatures gathered in each district must equal at least 7% percent of the number of people who voted in the most recent general election.<ref>[http://www.akrepublicans.org/williams/23/news/will2004020601p.php ''House Passes HJR 5'', Alaska HJR, 2003]</ref>   
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In 2004, the [[Alaska House of Representatives]] passed legislation which took steps to complicate the state's initiative process by requiring a "wider range" of voters be involved in the process. It added a [[distribution requirement]] so that [[valid signature|signatures]] henceforth must be obtained from [[Residency requirements for petition circulators|residents]] in at least three-quarters of the House Districts in [[Alaska]]. Additionally, the signatures gathered in each district must equal at least 7% percent of the number of people who voted in the most recent general election.<ref>[http://www.akrepublicans.org/williams/23/news/will2004020601p.php ''House Passes HJR 5'', Alaska HJR, 2003]</ref>   
  
<blockquote>"I've been working on getting this kind of an amendment passed for more than six years.  The initiative process has not been working the way the framers of our constitution intended it to do. Alaska must not fall prey to the kind of ballot-box lawmaking that has hamstrung governments in places like [[California]] and [[Oregon]]," said Rep. Bill Williams, who proposed the legislation.<ref>[http://www.sitnews.us/0504news/051104/051104_process_reform.html ''Alaska Legislature Passes Amendment to Reform Initiative Process'', Sit News, May 11, 2004]</ref></blockquote>
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<blockquote>"I've been working on getting this kind of an amendment passed for more than six years.  The initiative process has not been working the way the framers of our constitution intended it to do. Alaska must not fall prey to the kind of ballot-box lawmaking that has hamstrung governments in places like [[California]] and [[Oregon]]," said Rep. Bill Williams, who proposed the legislation.<ref>[http://www.sitnews.us/0504news/051104/051104_process_reform.html ''Alaska Legislature Passes Amendment to Reform Initiative Process'', Sit News, May 11, 2004]</ref></blockquote>
  
==2008 on the ballot==
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==2014 on the ballot==
  
Four statewide ballot questions appeared on the [[Alaska 2008 ballot measures|August 26 primary ballot in Alaska]].  All four measures were handily defeated.  All four were [[initiated state statute]]s:  The [[Alaska Gaming Commission, Measure 1 (August 2008)|Gambling Commission Establishment Initiative]], the [[Alaska Wolf and Bear Protection, Measure 2 (August 2008)|Wolf Protection Act]], a [[Alaska Clean Elections Act (2008)|campaign finance reform act]], and a [[Protect Alaska's Clean Water Act (2008)|clean water, anti-Pebble Mine act]] that was finally ordered onto the August ballot in early July by the [[Alaska Supreme Court]].
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Three statewide ballot questions were on the [[Alaska 2014 ballot measures|November 4, 2014, ballot in Alaska]].  All three measures were approved.  All three were [[initiated state statute]]s:  The [[Alaska Marijuana Legalization, Ballot Measure 2 (2014)|Marijuana Legalization Initiative]], the [[Alaska Minimum Wage Increase, Ballot Measure 3 (2014)|Minimum Wage Increase Initiative]] and the [[Alaska Bristol Bay Mining Ban, Ballot Measure 4 (2014)|Bristol Bay Mining Ban Initiative]].
  
 
==See also==
 
==See also==
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==External links==
 
==External links==
  
* [http://www.elections.alaska.gov/inithist.php Alaska's history of ballot issues and petitions]
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* [http://www.elections.alaska.gov/ei_return.php Alaska Election Results 1960-present]
* [http://www.elections.alaska.gov/petitions/previous_initiatives.php Alaska's initiatives from 1960-2000]
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* [https://web.archive.org/web/2/http://www.lwvalaska.org/positions/Position6StatutoryInitiativeProcessAK.htm League of Women Voters stance of Alaska's I&R process]
* [http://www.elections.alaska.gov/petitions/status.php Alaska's initiatives from 2001-on]
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* [http://www.elections.alaska.gov/refbal.php Referendums on Alaska's ballot]
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* [http://www.lwvalaska.org/positions/Position6StatutoryInitiativeProcessAK.htm League of Women Voters stance of Alaska's I&R process]
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==Acknowledgments==
 
==Acknowledgments==

Latest revision as of 09:36, 24 February 2015


The History of Initiative & Referendum in Alaska began in 1959 when it became the 20th state to adopt a statewide initiative process. Alaska's law allows for indirect initiated state statutes (laws) and for a veto referendum (to overturn laws passed by the Alaska State Legislature). However, Alaska voters do not have the right to make appropriations or amend the state constitution.

The right of initiative is spelled out in Article XI of the Alaska Constitution under, "The people may propose and enact laws by the initiative, and approve or reject acts of the legislature by referendum."

From 1960, the first year Alaskans voted on an initiative, through the November 4, 2014 general election, Alaskans considered a total of 51 statewide initiatives, approving 27 and rejecting 24. (This count doesn't include veto referenda or legislative referrals.)

# won # lost  % Won  % lost
27 24 53% 47%

Moving the state capital

Alaska Capitol, still in Juneau

Citizens have attempted to relocate the capital from Juneau to Anchorage 5 times through the initiative process. In 1974, voters approved an initiative to relocate the state capitol. Without an appropriation, this decision could be implemented only if the legislature acted. Since the legislature failed to respond, voters passed another initiative in 1978, this time requiring the state government to determine the cost of relocation and stipulating that any bond issue to finance that cost be subject to voter approval. The bond issue went to the voters in 1980, but they rejected it, resulting in Juneau remaining the state capital, despite its great distance from the major population center of Anchorage.

Unicameral advisory vote

In 1972, Alaskans voted in favor of an Advisory Vote on a Unicameral Legislature. The vote was approved, but the legislature declined to place the requested constitutional amendment on the ballot for a statewide vote.

Abolishing the state income tax

The Alaskan legislature did pay heed, however, to an initiative sponsored by the Libertarian Party to abolish the state personal income tax. The initiative qualified for the November 1980 ballot but was so popular that it was enacted by the legislature on September 25 of that year, thus making a popular vote unnecessary.

Use of veto referendum in Alaska

See also: List of veto referenda in Alaska

Alaskan voters have turned to the veto referendum process four times. The first occasion was in 1968, with the Voter Registration Referendum. The second was in 1975, with the Legislative Compensation Referendum, the third was the Land-and-Shoot Referendum in 2000 and the fourth was in 2014 with the Oil Tax Cuts Referendum.

Legislative support of the I&R process

In 1997 the Alaska elections division posted an article on its website that took a decidedly negative viewpoint on the initiative process, listing an array of reasons that people can not be trusted to enact legislation, even while citing there has been no evidence proving this. The report takes care to call the direct democracy a "buyer beware" system and quoting John Jacobs' opinion that many initiatives are special interests masquerading as the people.[1]

In 2004, the Alaska House of Representatives passed legislation which took steps to complicate the state's initiative process by requiring a "wider range" of voters be involved in the process. It added a distribution requirement so that signatures henceforth must be obtained from residents in at least three-quarters of the House Districts in Alaska. Additionally, the signatures gathered in each district must equal at least 7% percent of the number of people who voted in the most recent general election.[2]

"I've been working on getting this kind of an amendment passed for more than six years. The initiative process has not been working the way the framers of our constitution intended it to do. Alaska must not fall prey to the kind of ballot-box lawmaking that has hamstrung governments in places like California and Oregon," said Rep. Bill Williams, who proposed the legislation.[3]

2014 on the ballot

Three statewide ballot questions were on the November 4, 2014, ballot in Alaska. All three measures were approved. All three were initiated state statutes: The Marijuana Legalization Initiative, the Minimum Wage Increase Initiative and the Bristol Bay Mining Ban Initiative.

See also

External links

Acknowledgments

The original version of this article was significantly based on an article[4] published by the Initiative & Referendum Institute, and is used with their permission. Their article, in turn, relies on research in David Schmidt's book, Citizen Lawmakers: The Ballot Initiative Revolution.[5]


References