Alaska voters will be asked to sign petitions reinstating the state’s Coastal Management Program and once again giving the state and local communities an official say in what happens in federal offshore waters.
Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell Tuesday certified the petition, using the full 60 days in which he was given to review it.
Now, initiative sponsors, including Juneau Mayor Bruce Botelho, will have a year to collect the 25,875 signatures necessary to place the measure on the ballot.
“Alaskans now have the opportunity to make their voices heard to bring back an important program that gives the state and local communities a meaningful say in decisions that affect coastal development and resources,” Botelho, a lead sponsor of the initiative, said in a press release.
Botelho and other initiative supporters were unavailable for interviews Tuesday following the early evening announcement by Treadwell,
Initiative sponsors, calling themselves the “Alaska Sea Party,” said they’d gather the signatures well before the one-year deadline, and even before the beginning of the legislative session on Jan. 17.
“Our goal is to gather the necessary signatures before the start of next year’s legislative session to encourage legislators to pass a substantially similar law,” the sponsors said.
Under state law, legislators can avoid an initiative election by enacting substantially similar legislation in the next session after the signatures are gathered.
Botelho and other sponsors had said they hoped Treadwell would complete his review before Tuesday’s deadline to give signature gatherers additional time.
Treadwell said the petition submitted Oct. 7 needed to be reviewed by the Department of Law and his own Division of Elections.
The Department of Law review concluded that the bill is in the proper form and recommended that he approve the initiative application, Treadwell said in a letter to the initiative sponsors.
The title of the initiative will be “An Act establishing the Alaska Coastal Management Program,” and resurrects the program that once existed.
The Division of Elections also had to certify that the prospective petition submitted in September was accompanied by sufficient signatures. It did so, determining that 265 of the 280 signatures submitted were of qualified voters.
Sponsors said they’ll use both volunteer and paid signature gatherers to collect the necessary signatures by the start of the session.
The former Coastal Management program ended last June 30 when the Legislature was unable to agree on its renewal, despite work during the 90-day regular session and two special sessions devoted to the issue.
Coastal legislators were attempting to give local communities more say in the offshore and coastal issues the program covers, while development interests, Gov. Parnell and the House of Representatives leadership wanted to retain that authority with the state.
• Contact reporter Pat Forgey at 523-2250 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Editor's note: This article has been changed to reflect that the petition was submitted Oct. 7.