Bill advancing in Alaska Senate could overwrite initiative
Mar. 30, 2018
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A bill that has the potential to overwrite a ballot initiative planned for this fall's election has advanced in the Alaska Senate.
The Senate's State Affairs Committee on Tuesday approved a revised version of the bill that includes much of a so-called "good governance" ballot initiative, the Juneau Empire reported .
Under the Alaska Constitution, if the Legislature passes a bill "substantially similar" to a ballot measure, that initiative will be removed from the ballot.
The initiative would require lawmakers to declare financial conflicts of interest before voting in the Legislature. It would prohibit some kinds of gifts from lobbyists and bar lawmakers from receiving per diem expense payments if they fail to pass a budget before the constitutional end of the Legislative session. It would also place restrictions on international travel by lawmakers and on political contributions by foreign-influenced corporations.
Removal of the initiative is a long ways away, though, the Juneau Empire reported. The bill will head to the Senate Judiciary Committee next. If approved, it would advance to the Finance Committee before going to a vote before the full Senate. Any changes made there would have to be confirmed by the House before Gov. Bill Walker would get the final say.
Republican Sen. Kevin Meyer of Anchorage said the bill has some good ideas about how the Legislature should address conflicts of interest.
"We got thinking that if that (section) matches the initiative, let's look at the other things on the initiative and see if we can't combine everything else into this one bill, and if so, then the initiative wouldn't need to go before voters," he said.
He said passing the bill would save costs because the division of Elections wouldn't have to put it on the ballot. Passing it this session would also allow it to go into effect more quickly.
Information from: Juneau (Alaska) Empire, http://www.juneauempire.com