Legislature relocation initiative moves to signature-gathering stage
The initiative that would move legislative meetings to Anchorage has now been approved by Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer, who sent a letter to the sponsor Dave Bronson today, announcing his decision
Meyer wrote that 198 of the 208 signatures submitted were those of qualified voters, and the Department of Law concluded the bill is in the proper form and is eligible for signature-gathering.
Bronson will have one year from the time the Division of Election provides him with petition booklets to gather the required signatures. The petition must be signed by 10 percent of those who voted in the preceding general election, and must come from three-quarters of the House districts in the state. Some 28,501 signatures are needed.
Bronson is part of a group called Equal Access Alaska. The earliest the initiative could be on the ballot is for the Nov. 3, 2020 General Election.
NOW COMES THE HARD PART
Getting signatures from across the state the size of Alaska will be a challenge for the group, but no district will be more of a challenge than Juneau’s two House districts, where few voters are likely to sign the petition.
The petition gatherers will need to get more than 628 valid voter signatures from House District 33 and 614 signatures from House District 34, both districts filled with Juneauites who typically object to even moving a few state jobs out of the capital city, must less moving the Legislature itself. It’s also hard to imagine succeeding in nearby House District 35, Sitka, where the petition booklets will need to get over 551 valid signatures from an area that is likely to support its closest neighbors.
Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.