Ballot Measure #1 - Increase Number of Legislators and Districts. Specific ballot language given below:
"This Act would amend the Alaska Constitution to increase the number of state legislators from 60 to 66. The Act would increase the number of senate members from 20 to 22. It would increase the number of house members from 40 to 44. Six new legislative districts would be created as a result – 4 in the House and 2 in the Senate. The changes proposed by the Act would go into effect on or after January 1, 2011, after a new redistricting plan based on the 2010 U.S. Census is adopted.
Should this constitutional amendment be adopted?"
This ballot measure was enabled by SJR21. The specific language of SJR21 outlines the provisions and parts of the Alaska State Constitution to be amended:
-- Article II, Section 1, Membership: Increases the number of senators from 20 to 22 and the number of representatives from 40 to 44.
-- Article VI, Section 4, Method of Redistricting: Simply tasks the Redistricting Board to increase the number of seats to accommodate the increase of lawmakers.
-- Article VI, Section 6, District Boundaries: Tasks the Redistricting Board to establish the new size and boundaries of each district. Same methodology as before, except now the population of Alaska will be divided by 44 instead of 40 to establish the new house districts. Each senate district will continue to overlie two house districts.
-- Article XV: A "housekeeping" amendment stating that the 2010 amendments apply only to any redistricting plans adopted on or after January 1st, 2011, and to the membership of legislatures subject to those redistricting plans.
-- Fiscal Note #3: Estimates a total of $6,140,000, to be allocated towards personal services, travel, contractual, and supplies (all recurring), and a one-time capital outlay expense to remodel the existing chambers in the Capitol and reconfigure space in the Capitol Complex to accommodate 12 new offices. Other potential expenses are indeterminate at this time.
-- Fiscal Note #4: Estimates a total one-time cost of providing information about the constitutional amendment in the Official Election Pamphlet to be $1,500. Should the addition of this question require printing an 8-1/2 by 18 inch ballot, the cost
will increase to $22,000.
Legislative History: On March 31st, 2010, the Senate passed this bill 14-5-1, with Senator Lesil McGuire excused. Opponents included Senators Bunde, Dyson, Huggins, Stevens, and Wagoner, all Republicans. On April 17th, the House passed this bill with amendments 31-8-1, with Rep. Mark Neuman (R-Wasilla) excused. Opponents included Reps. Gatto, Johnson, Kawasaki, Keller, Kelly, Millett, Stoltze, and T.Wilson, all Republicans except for Kawasaki, a Democrat. Finally, on April 18th, the Senate passed the amended version 16-4; opponents included Senators Bunde, Dyson, Huggins, and Wagoner.
Background: Although the population of Alaska continues to grow, the number of state lawmakers remains static. This means each lawmaker must service a growing number of constituents. In urban areas, this is barely noticeable, but in rural areas, it significantly increases the costs associated with constituent services in order to avoid a qualitative decrease. A March 24th, 2010 Juneau Empire article describes this problem by highlighting the "district from hell", represented by Senator Albert Kookesh. It stretches in an arc from near Bethel in southwest Alaska to Metlakatla in the southeast Alaska Panhandle. Much of this district is roadless, requiring more expensive air transportation for physical access. Rep. Paul Seaton (R-Homer) offers his analysis of Ballot Measure 1 HERE.
Redistricting would have been necessary anyway to account for the official 2010 census. Ballot Measure 1 merely adds more lawmakers to create more effective representation and to better level the playing field between urban and rural districts. What we voters must decide is if it is worth an extra $6 million per year. Will we Alaskans get $6 million more in value?