Capital requirements

Letters to the editor

Posted: Thursday, October 19, 2000

Recently the Juneau Empire reported that the governor is allowing his commissioners to relocate and do official business from outside the Capital City for the state of Alaska which in effect, is relocating the seat of government of the state.

The moving of commissioners to other parts of Alaska violates the Alaska Statehood Act, the Alaska Constitution, and the laws of Alaska. Upon statehood, the people agreed to all the provisions of the Alaska Statehood Act (P.L. 85-508) including Section 8(d) which states in part:

"Upon admission of the State of Alaska into the Union as herein provided, all of the Territorial laws then in force in the Territory of Alaska shall be and continue in full force and effect throughout said State except as modified or changed by this Act, or by the constitution of the State, or as thereafter modified or changed by the legislature of the State. ... As used in this paragraph, the term 'Territorial laws' includes ... all laws or parts thereof enacted by the Congress ... to provide for the government of Alaska prior to the admission of the State of Alaska into the Union, ..."

The people also agreed to his provision of the Alaska Statehood Act at Article XIII, Section 13 of the Alaska Constitution [as a condition of grants of lands or other property].

At Section 2 of the Sixty-second Congress, Session II, Chapter 387, the Congress declared: "That the capital of the Territory of Alaska shall be at the city of Juneau, Alaska, and the seat of government shall be maintained there." [37 Stat. 512; CLA 462; 48 USC 22]. This provision of federal law was restated in the Alaska Territorial Laws at 1-1-2.

Confusion was placed into the statutes of Alaska by the Alaska Legislature at the time the people was considering relocating the capital to Willow. The legislature enacted A.S. 44.06.010 which reads: "Site of capital. The capital of the state is the city of Juneau Alaska (1-1-2 ACLA 1949)." Here we notice that the last sentence of the federal law: "and the seat of government shall be maintained there" is missing. Does missing language constitute an amendment of the Territorial Law? I think not.

The statutes of Alaska are prima facial evidence of the law as the statutes are not laws in themselves. The laws of Alaska are the "Alaska Session Laws." The legislature is required to state within the statutes the authority from where the statute was formed (e.g. SLA's). In the case of the capital site statute A.S. 44.06.010; it is the citing of "1-1-2 ACLA 1949" that controls the statute and as such, there is an understanding that A.S. 44.06.101 includes the full text of the territorial law unless otherwise stated by the legislature in the Alaska Session Laws. There are no Alaska Session Laws that amends the Territorial Law.

As the governor has a duty to faithfully execute the laws of the State under Article III, Section 16 of the Alaska Constitution, the governor is obligated to bring his commissioners back to Juneau.

Gordon Warren Epperly


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