(Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)

(Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)

Opinion: We’re at risk of losing our well-crafted constitution

Vote no for a constitutional convention in November.

  • By Meilani Schijvens
  • Wednesday, June 29, 2022 11:18pm
  • Opinion

In Alaska we are lucky to have a well-crafted constitution. It is a short, elegant document that provides us freedoms and rights unique to Alaska. However, we are at risk of losing it. Every 10 years Alaskans are asked if they want to keep their constitution or have a convention to rethink it and potentially develop a new one; and every 10 years Alaskans say an emphatic “no thank you.”

A survey of 410 Southeast Alaska businesses by Southeast Conference suggests we are headed toward an overwhelming no vote once again — at least in Southeast Alaska — with only 16% of regional business leaders planning to vote to open the constitution. Our small businesses understand that a constitutional convention puts the entire legal framework of the state at risk, and that long-term litigation over a new constitution would create a lack of business certainty for years to come. Both the Ketchikan and Juneau chambers of commerce have passed resolutions opposing a convention. Our rural communities could have the most to lose. The ferry system, subsistence, fishing rights, Power Cost Equalization and rural education funding could all be in jeopardy under a constitution re-do.

The Alaska Constitution states: “The right of the people to privacy is recognized and shall not be infringed.” While there is no right to privacy granted in the United States Constitution the Alaska Constitution explicitly safeguards these rights, meaning that Alaskans have the right to make personal choices relating to one’s own life. In Alaska this privacy clause extends to many things including (quite relevantly at the moment) personal reproductive health care decisions. For this reason, our constitution is more at risk than it has been in previous decades, as our privacy clause is specifically being targeted for removal.

Voting no on the convention protects our constitution, our right to privacy, our businesses, our economic stability, our rural communities, and Alaskans. Vote no in November.

Meilani Schijvens is the owner of Rain Coast Data. She is a lifelong Alaskan and has dedicated her professional career to Alaska economic development.

More in Opinion

Ballot booths are set up inside Kenai City Hall on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Perspective from an election worker

Here is what I know about our Kenai Peninsula Borough election system

Apayauq Reitan, the first transgender woman to participate in the Iditarod, tells the House Education Committee on March 30, 2023, why she opposes a bill restricting transgender rights. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: The imaginary transgender sports crisis

House Bill 183 is a right-wing solution to a problem that doesn’t exist now and never will.

Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, a Nikiski Republican, speaks in favor of overriding a veto of Senate Bill 140 during floor debate of a joint session of the Alaska State Legislature on Monday, March 18, 2024. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Sen. Jesse Bjorkman: Session ends with budget, dividend and bills passed

Capitol Corner: Legislators report back from Juneau

The Alaska State Capitol. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire file photo)
Listen to PAs; support Senate Bill 115: Modernizing PA Practice in Alaska

Health care is rapidly evolving, demanding a more flexible and responsive system

Mount Redoubt can be seen across Cook Inlet from North Kenai Beach on Thursday, July 2, 2022. (Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion file photo)
Opinion: Hilcorp Alaska: Powering Southcentral Alaska — past, present and future

Hilcorp Alaska has and will continue to fully develop our Cook Inlet basin leasehold

Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, a Nikiski Republican, speaks in favor of overriding a veto of Senate Bill 140 during floor debate of a joint session of the Alaska State Legislature on Monday, March 18, 2024 (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Sen. Jesse Bjorkman: Collegiality matters

Capitol Corner: Legislators report back from Juneau

Juneau Empire file photo
Larry Persily.
Opinion: Alaska might as well embrace the past

The governor, legislators, municipal officials and business leaders are worried that the Railbelt will run short of natural gas before the end of the decade

The Alaska State Capitol on March 1. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Opinion: Physicians oppose Alaska Senate Bill 115 — Independent Practice for PAs

Alaskans don’t want access to just any health care, they want access to high quality care