Laws governing the initiative process in Alaska

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Contents
1 Laws and procedures
1.1 Crafting an initiative
1.1.1 Single-subject rule
1.1.2 Subject restrictions
1.1.3 Competing initiatives
1.2 Starting a petition
1.2.1 Applying to petition
1.2.2 Proposal review/approval
1.2.3 Petition summary
1.2.4 Fiscal review
1.3 Collecting signatures
1.3.1 Number required
1.3.2 Distribution requirements
1.3.3 Restrictions on circulators
1.3.4 Electronic signatures
1.3.5 Deadlines for collection
1.4 Getting on the ballot
1.4.1 Signature verification
1.4.2 Ballot title and summary
1.5 The election and beyond
1.5.1 Supermajority requirements
1.5.2 Effective date
1.5.3 Litigation
1.5.4 Legislative tampering
1.5.5 Re-attempting an initiative
1.6 Funding an initiative campaign
1.7 State initiative law
2 Changes in the law

Citizens of Alaska may initiate legislation through the process of indirect initiative. In Alaska, successful petitions are first presented to the Alaska State Legislature. If the measure (or an equivalent measure) is not adopted, the law is then placed before voters. In Alaska, citizens also have the power to repeal legislation via veto referendum. Alaska residents may not amend their constitution via initiative or directly initiate legislation. The Alaska State Legislature may also place measures on the ballot as legislatively-referred constitutional amendments or legislatively-referred state statutes.

Crafting an initiative

Of the 24 states that allow citizens to initiate legislation through the petition process, several states have adopted restrictions and regulations that limit the scope and content of proposed initiatives. These regulations may include laws that mandate that initiatives address only one topic, restrict the range of acceptable topics for proposed laws, prohibit unfunded mandates, and establish guidelines for adjudicating contradictory measures.

Single-subject rule

See also: Single-subject rule

In Alaska, each proposed measure must cover only one subject. Such laws are also known as single-subject rules.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Alaska Statutes, Sec. 15.45.040

Subject restrictions

See also: Subject restrictions (ballot measures)

Petitioners in Alaska may not propose legislation on certain subjects. Initiated laws may not:

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

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Alaska Constitution, Article XI, Section 7; Alaska statutes, Sec. 15.45.040

Competing initiatives

See also: Superseding initiative; "Poison pills"; List of Alaska ballot measures

Alaska law does not address competing ballot initiatives. No competing measures have been on the Alaska ballot in the past decade.

Starting a petition

Each initiative and referendum state employs a different procedure for filing petition applications. Some states require preliminary signatures while others do not. In addition, several states review each proposed statute, verifying that the law conforms to the style and conventions of state law and recommending alterations to initiative proponents. Some of these of these states also review the law for more substantive considerations of content and consistency. Also, many states conduct a review of the ballot title and summary, and several states employ a fiscal review process which analyzes proposed laws to determine their impact on state finances.[1][2][3]

Applying to petition

See also: Approved for circulation

Alaska is one of several states that require a certain number of signatures to accompany petition applications. The signatures of at least 100 qualified voters who will serve as sponsors of the ballot measure are required. Along with the signatures, proponents must file a copy of the proposed bill and designate three sponsors to serve as the initiative committee representing the other sponsors. Proponents must file the application with the Lieutenant Governor's office and pay a deposit. This deposit is refunded when the petition is properly filed. Once the application is accepted, the Division of Elections prepares petition forms for the proponents to circulate. If additional forms are required, proponents must pay the cost of printing.

DocumentIcon.jpg See Law: Alaska Statues, Sec. 15.45.020 - 15.45.030 & Alaska Administrative Code, Title 6, Part 1, Chapter 25.240

Proposal review/approval

See also: Approved for circulation

After the application has been submitted, the Lieutenant Governor must verify the application's 100 preliminary signatures. The Alaska Department of Law then reviews the application for legal content and advises the Lieutenant Governor on whether to deny or approve the application. In addition to following the state's subject rules, every proposed law must contain the enacting clause "Be it enacted by the People of the State of Alaska." If these requirements are not met or the application is not in the proper form, the application will be denied. The State of Alaska does not provide proponents with a technical review of the legislation, but will notify sponsors of the grounds for rejecting their application if it is denied. The Lt. Governor has 60 days to review an application.[1]

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Alaska Statutes, Sec. 15.45.070 - Sec. 15.45.080

Petition summary

See also: Ballot measure summary statement

The Alaska Lieutenant Governor drafts an impartial summary to appear on the petition forms. Challenges to this summary are filed in the Alaska Superior Court.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Alaska Statutes, Sec. 15.45.090 & Alaska Statutes Sec. 15.45.240

Fiscal review

See also: Fiscal impact statement

Each petition includes a statement of the cost of reviewing and certifying the petition as well as "an estimate of the cost to the state of implementing the proposed law." This summary is prepared by the Alaska Lieutenant Governor.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Alaska Statutes, Sec. 15.45.090 (4)

Collecting signatures

Each initiative and referendum state employs a unique method of calculating the state's signature requirements. Some states mandate a certain fraction of registered voters while others base their calculation on those who actually voted in a preceding election. In addition, many states employ a distribution requirement, dictating where in the state these signatures must be collected. Beyond these overarching requirements, many states regulate the manner in which signatures may be collected and the timeline for collecting them.

Number required

See also: 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

Distribution requirements

See also: Distribution requirements

Signatures equal to 7% of the total district vote in the last general election must be collected in each of 3/4 of the 40 Alaska House districts.

An older, less restrictive, distribution requirement was changed by a legislatively referred ballot measure on the November 2004 ballot, the Distribution Requirement for Initiatives Act. That measure was approved with 51.7% of the vote. The older requirement was that proponents must collect petition signatures from each of 2/3 of Alaska's 40 state House districts--only one voter needed to sign from each of the 27 districts.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Alaska Statutes, Sec. 15.45.140; Alaska Distribution Requirement for Initiatives, Measure 1 (2004)

Restrictions on circulators

Circulator requirements

See also: Petition circulator

In Alaska, circulators are permitted to sign the petition that they are circulating.[4] Each initiative petition contains a mandatory circulator affidavit. A circulator is not required to sign these affidavits before a public notary, however he/she must swear to and sign a statement, under the penalty of law, that he/she personally witnessed every act of signing the petition.[5] According to Alaska State Statutes and Codes, Sec. 15.45.105., those circulating petitions are required:[6]

  • to be a citizen of the United States
  • to be at least 18 years of age or older
  • to be a resident of the state as determined under AS 15.05.020.

Once circulation is completed, the signatures are submitted to the lieutenant governor.[7]

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Alaska Statutes, Sec. 15.45.105, Alaska Statutes Sec. 15.45.130 & Alaska Statutes Sec. 15.45.140

Pay-per-signature

See also: Pay-per-signature

Alaska does not prohibit paying circulators by the signature, but caps their pay at $1 per signature.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Alaska Statutes, Sec. 15.45.110

Out-of-state circulators

See also: Residency requirements for petition circulators

Alaska requires that petition circulators reside in the state. Several similar laws in other states have been overturned, but the US Supreme Court has yet to rule on the matter.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Alaska Statutes, Sec. 15.45.105

Badge requirements

See also: Badge requirements

Alaska does not require paid or volunteer circulators to be identified as such on petitions or by a badge. Alaska used to require that circulators include their name and paid/volunteer status on petitions during circulation. This earlier law appears to have been changed in response to Buckley v. American Constitutional Law Foundation. While Buckley did not overturn paid/volunteer disclosure requirements, it did forbid states from requiring circulators to provide their names on petitions.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Alaska Statutes, Sec. 15.45.090 & Sec. 15.45.105-110 & Alaska Attorney General Opinion, AG file no: 663-01-0051, September 22, 2000

Electronic signatures

See also: Electronic petition signatures

Since electronic signatures are an emerging technology, the constitutionality of bans on e-signatures and the legality of e-signatures in states without bans is largely untested. Alaska law does mandate that signatures be collected in person.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Alaska Statutes, Sec. 15.45.110

Deadlines for collection

See also: Petition drive deadlines; Circulation period

In Alaska, petitioners have one year to collect signatures. Signatures must be submitted prior to the start of the legislative session in January.

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

Getting on the ballot

Once signatures have been collected, state officials must verify that requirements are met and that fraudulent signatures are excluded. States generally employ a random sample process or a full verification of signatures. After verification, the issue must be prepared for the ballot. This often involves preparing a fiscal review and ballot summary.

Signature verification

See also: Signature certification

The Alaska Lt. Governor will verify each signature submitted until the requirement is met.[8]

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

Ballot title and summary

See also: Ballot title

The Alaska Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General are responsible for drafting the ballot title and ballot summary. Challenges to either the title or the summary are filed in the Alaska Superior Court.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Alaska Statutes, Sec. 15.45.180 & Alaska Statutes Sec. 15.45.240

The election and beyond

Ballot measures face additional challenges beyond qualifying for the ballot and receiving a majority of the vote. Several states require ballot measures to get more than a simple majority. While some states mandate a 3/5 supermajority, others states set the margin differently. In addition, ballot measures may face legal challenge or modification by legislators. If a ballot measure does fail, some states limit how soon that initiative can be re-attempted.

Supermajority requirements

See also: Supermajority requirements

Alaska ballot initiatives do not require a supermajority for passage.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Alaska Statutes, Sec. 15.45.180

Effective date

Once approved by voters, an initiative becomes law after 90 days.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Alaska Statutes, Sec. 15.45.220

Litigation

See also: Ballot measure lawsuit news

Any party that wishes to challenge a decision by the Lieutenant Governor during the initiative process must bring action in the Alaska Superior Court with 30 days of decision's announcement.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Alaska Statutes, Sec. 15.45.240

Legislative tampering

See also: Legislative tampering

The Alaska State Legislature may not repeal a measure for two years following its passage. However, lawmakers can then amend the law by a simple majority vote.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Alaska Constitution, Article XI, Section 6

Re-attempting an initiative

Alaska does not limit how soon an initiative can be re-attempted.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Alaska Statutes, Sec. 15.45.040

Funding an initiative campaign

See also: 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.

State initiative law

Article XI of the Alaska Constitution addresses initiative, referendum, and recall.

Chapter 15.45 of Title 15 of the Alaska Statutes governs initiative, referendum, and recall.

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 Laws and procedures
2 Changes in the law
2.1 Proposed changes by year
2.1.1 2012
2.1.2 2011
2.1.3 2010

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

Proposed changes by year

2012

See also: Changes in 2012 to laws governing ballot measures


2011

See also: Changes in 2011 to laws governing ballot measures



The following bills were introduced in the Alaska State Legislature:

Right-facing-Arrow-icon.jpg Alaska House Bill 74: Bill description/summary: "An Act relating to election pamphlets; relating to information that must be provided for a bill under consideration by the legislature that authorizes the issuance of state general obligation bonds and to information that must be provided before the issuance of state general obligation bonds is submitted to the voters for ratification; and providing for an effective date."[1]


2010

See also: Changes in 2010 to laws governing ballot measures



The following bills were introduced in the Alaska Legislature:

ApprovedaAlaska House Bill 36 (2010): House Bill 36 is a proposal that changed campaign finance and other technical requirements of Alaska's initiative and referendum laws. The changes to the campaign finance provisions include mandatory registration and reporting for individuals and groups who plan to contribute $500 or more to support or oppose a ballot measure. Also, the bill would change how a person or a group is defined under state campaign finance law. The bill would also require a single subject rule on all ballot questions. A printed voter information guide would be required under the bill. The guide must disclose all proposed initiatives along with a list of public hearings under the direction of the Lieutenant Governor[1].