Legislature(2001 - 2002)

2002-08-14 House Journal

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2002-08-14                     House Journal                      Page 4081
HB 296                                                                                            
The following letter, dated July 5, 2002, was received:                                             
"Dear Speaker Porter:                                                                               
Under the authority vested in me by art. II, sec. 15, of the Alaska                                 
Constitution, I have vetoed the following bill:                                                     
      SENATE CS FOR CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 296(JUD)                                                  
      "An Act relating to mergers and consolidations of municipalities."                            

2002-08-14                     House Journal                      Page 4082
This legislation, which would alter how local option mergers and                                    
consolidations of municipalities may be accomplished, could have an                                 
adverse effect on all future merger and consolidation efforts.                                      
Under current law, a simple majority of the electors of the entire area                             
to be consolidated determines whether the consolidation or merger                                   
passes.  This voting process has been upheld as constitutional and is in                            
furtherance of art. X, sec. 1, of the Alaska Constitution.  See Douglas                             
v. City and Borough of Juneau, 484 P.2d 1040 (Alaska 1971).                                         
This bill would require a majority of voters in each of the affected                                
parts of municipalities to be merged or consolidated to vote in favor of                            
the action and does so by creating de facto election districts.  For                                
instance, under this bill all voters in a borough outside city limits                               
become a separate voting district.  City dwellers within the borough                                
may vote only as residents and taxpayers of the city, but are prevented                             
from voting as residents of the borough where they also live and pay                                
taxes.  This disenfranchises the city voters by denying them an                                     
appropriate share of the vote in the borough election, and actually                                 
empowers the smaller non-city portion of the borough electorate to                                  
solely decide the outcome of the merger or consolidation vote.   The                                
result is that consolidations and mergers of municipalities become                                  
more difficult, if not impossible, under the local option method.  This                             
would be contrary to the Alaska Constitution.                                                       
The bill also provides that the voting provisions related to mergers and                            
consolidations are intended to be consistent with the voting                                        
requirements for annexation specified in AS 29.06.040(c)(1).                                        
However, there is nothing in AS 29.06.040(c)(1) that provides for the                               
minority vote to supersede the majority vote.  In fact, this statute                                
directly contradicts the provisions of this bill.  This would only serve                            
to cause serious legal problems in the administration of the new                                    
provisions in this bill.                                                                            
For the reasons stated, I have vetoed this bill.                                                    

2002-08-14                     House Journal                      Page 4083
                                             Tony Knowles