In this 2011 file photo, Alaska Department of Revenue Commissioner Bryan Butcher speaks to the House Finance Committee at the Capitol. (Michael Penn ι Juneau Empire)

In this 2011 file photo, Alaska Department of Revenue Commissioner Bryan Butcher speaks to the House Finance Committee at the Capitol. (Michael Penn ι Juneau Empire)

Initiative would move Legislature’s meetings to Anchorage

Anchorage group working toward a ballot initiative

An Anchorage group is striving to let voters decide whether the Alaska Legislature should meet in Anchorage rather than Juneau.

The Equal Access Alaska-backed voter initiative — which would require “meetings of the Alaska Legislature to be held in Anchorage” — was filed with the Alaska Division of Elections on Feb. 4. The petition application is under review, according to the division’s website.

“All regular and special meetings of the Alaska Legislature shall be held in the Municipality of Anchorage, Alaska,” the initiatives states. The initiative would repeal from statute and regulations “any and all language” that says the Legislature should be held in the capital or a location other than Anchorage.

Dave Bronson of Anchorage is chairing Equal Access Alaska. A voicemail was left with him on Friday afternoon.

According to Equal Access Alaska’s website, the group promoting this initiative, their goal is to collect signatures in 2019, and have the initiative placed on the Nov. 3, 2020 ballot.

Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai explained what it means to have a petition application pending. Right now the Department of Law has until April 8 to review the initiative to see that it meets statutory and constitutional requirements. If the Department of Law approves, petition booklets are delivered to the sponsors.

[Seward statue takes place in front of Capitol]

Typically, Equal Access Alaska would have a year to collect the required signatures. However, if the group wants this on the 2020 ballot, the signatures must be collected before the 31st Legislative Session reconvenes on Jan. 15, 2020.

“We want the legacy of back door deals and corruption to stop tainting our state’s reputation,” the Equal Access Alaska, website says. “The legislature belongs to the people, and the people must have reasonable and affordable access to their legislators while in session.”

Alaska statute guarantees, “the people their right to know and to approve in advance all costs of relocating the capital or the legislature; to insure that the people will have an opportunity to make an informed and objective decision on relocating the capital,” the initiative cites. However, this initiative states this statute would not apply because “this initiative only deals with meetings.”

“Juneau is our state capitol, and it should remain as such,” the website continues. “Moving the entire government from Juneau isn’t fiscally responsible, but putting the legislature within reasonable and affordable reach of the voters is. We want face-to-face access to our elected officials while they make important decisions affecting all Alaskans.”

How likely is it a voter initiative would work? History proves the move is difficult. Legislators have tried many times to move the capital to Anchorage, since statehood was enacted in 1959. In fact, Rep. George Rauscher, R-Sutton, recently introduced House Bill 2, which would require the Legislative Sessions to be held in the Anchorage Legislative Information Office.


• Contact reporter Kevin Baird at 523-2258 or kbaird@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @alaska_kev.


More in News

Debris from a large natural avalanche that occurred Monday, Dec. 6, can be seen along the Seward Highway. (Photo courtesy Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center)
Winter weather brings hazardous conditions to peninsula

On Tuesday, the Chugach Avalanche Center announced “very dangerous avalanche conditions.”

Central Peninsula Hospital is seen in Soldotna on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Hospital puts vaccine mandates on hold

A federal lawsuit challenging the ruling has temporarily blocked its enforcement.

A joint investigation between the FBI and Canadian law enforcement agencies resulted in the arrest of a Canadian man for cybercrimes on Nov. 30, 2021. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Canadian man indicted in international cybercrime case

His attacks targeted State of Alaska computers as well as Canadian ones.

Ashlyn O’Hara / Peninsula Clarion
The remains of the Triumvirate Theatre in Nikiski are seen on Feb. 22.
Triumvirate awarded $1 million to replace destroyed building

Triumvirate’s former building burned down Feb. 20.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education meets on Monday, Dec. 6, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Lawmakers, school board talk Juneau priorities

Lawmakers were invited for an “open discussion” about the upcoming legislative session.

A school closure announcement from the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District was issued Monday, Dec. 6, 2021.
Schools closed for Tuesday in Homer, Anchor Point

Central peninsula schools are still planned to open.

Kenai Mayor Brian Gabriel (left) and Kenai City Council Member Henry Knackstedt speak at a joint work session at the Kenai Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center on Monday, Oct. 11, 2021 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai council defeats efforts to extend review of land management plan

The proposal would have divided the plan into four chunks that each of the city’s commissions would review one at a time.

Cheryl Fellman checks her watch before attempting an Ice Mile. An Ice Mile is a type of endurance swim that tasks swimmers with covering a mile in water that is 41 degrees or colder. Fellman swam a mile in just under 35 minutes on Saturday at Auke Recreation Area. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
Juneau woman completes a mile in near-freezing water

The 49-year-old mother of two and longtime Juneau resident swam Saturday for more than half an hour.

Most Read