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Alaska Attorney General Releases Memo Concluding Contingency and Non-Severability Provisions of Senate Capital Budget are Unconstitutional

April 26, 2011, Juneau, Alaska - Attorney General John Burns today released a legal memorandum to Governor Parnell's chief of staff advising that the Senate Finance Committee's language tying together numerous appropriation items violates the Alaska Constitution. Burns also noted that tying projects together like this does not protect the important energy projects, but rather makes individual projects more vulnerable to third-party lawsuits. 

"Because the contingency and non-severability provisions in the draft capital budget link together individual appropriation items and require enactment of all or none, these provisions usurp the governor's constitutional line item veto power and violate the constitutional confinement clause, and, as such, are clearly unconstitutional," said Burns. 

Burns further advised, "Because the governor has sworn to uphold the Alaska Constitution, the governor cannot abandon his constitutionally assigned duty to review and consider all appropriations.

"Even if the Governor chose not to veto any of the appropriations the Senate has bundled together, inclusion of the non-severability provision places a cloud of uncertainty over each of these appropriations and energy projects. I remain hopeful that this issue can be resolved consistent with the principles set forth in the Alaska Constitution." 

A copy of the legal memorandum is available at: http://gov.alaska.gov/parnell_media/resources_files/42611capitalbudgetmemo.pdf

For more information contact Attorney General John Burns, (907) 465-3600.

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