Opinion: We do not need to convene a constitutional convention

Ways to amend the constitution already exist.

  • By Laraine Derr
  • Tuesday, September 6, 2022 11:25pm
  • Opinion

Have you read the constitution of our great state of Alaska? I have been reading articles published in various places, opinions of well-respected citizens and letters to the editors regarding the need for a convention to review that document. There have been arguments both positive and negative to support the 10-year review process built in to the constitution. To assist me in making a determination, I decided to read it.

I have always had a copy of the U.S. Constitution on my living room cabinet, a document of about 4,500 words, and have read it several times. I realized I have never read the entire Alaska Constitution and therefore couldn’t argue with some of the points people were making — so I decided to do so.

I went to ltgov.alaska.gov where the entire document as it was written can be found. It is a very easy site to maneuver. Tap on any of the 15 articles, and then any of the paragraphs, and very succinct descriptions will appear. While more than twice as wordy as the U.S. Constitution, our constitution sets out our direction in a completely understandable fashion.

There have been changes over the years. Some have been made by ballot initiative and some have been made by legislative referral. It has been amended 28 times, from the first amendment in 1966 regarding the residence requirement to vote for president to the last one in 2004 regarding the distribution requirement for initiatives. Reading the Alaska State Constitution reinforced my belief that the authors of our constitution did a great job.

So, my conclusion in deciding how to vote on this question of “Shall there be a Constitutional Convention” will be no. Read our constitution, read the amendments and hopefully you will decide that ways to amend the constitution already exist and we do not need to convene another gathering.

Laraine Derr is a former commissioner of the Alaska Department of Revenue, 15-year trustee of Alaska Mental Health Health Trust, received an honorary doctorate from University of Alaska Southeast and is the former owner and operator of Chez Alaska Cooking School.

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