House Passes Initiative Reform Legislation
Johansen, Wilson, and Millett's HB 36 safeguards the initiative process & raises accountability
(Juneau) - The Alaska State House today passed House Bill 36, legislation providing safeguards to the state's voter initiative process. House Majority Leader Kyle Johansen, R-Ketchikan, Rep. Peggy Wilson, R-Wrangell, and Rep. Charisse Millett, R-Anchorage, sponsored the bill - the Open and Transparent Initiative Act - which passed by a vote of to 35 to 5.
The sponsors of HB 36 respect the constitutionally-guaranteed right citizens have to enact legislation through the initiative process. Their goal is to make the initiative process stronger and more transparent to the public.
"HB 36 will restore Alaskan's faith in our election process by imposing more financial disclosures," Majority Leader Johansen said. "Right now groups don't have to file financial disclosures for up to year before the election. The public should be able to know who is funding initiatives from the very beginning. HB 36 changes the disclosure timeline so voters will see who is supporting or opposing initiatives from day one."
HB 36 strengthens the initiative process in several ways:
- Requires initiative sponsors to file comprehensive financial disclosure statements with the Alaska Public Offices Commission
- Requires signature-gatherers to carry a copy of the ballot initiative when soliciting for signatures so Alaskans can read the initiative before signing the petition
- Mandates a minimum of eight public hearings (two per judicial district) across the state
"Voter-approved initiatives carry the same weight as laws passed by the legislature," Rep. Peggy Wilson said. "It is only right and fair that we shed the same amount of light on initiatives as bills and resolutions before the legislature."
HB 36 is a public disclosure bill that ensures Alaskans have information from both sides of the initiative before casting their vote on Election Day.
HB 36 now heads to the Alaska State Senate for consideration.