Legislature(2003 - 2004)
03/11/2004 03:35 PM STA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
CSHCR 5(FIN) am -LEGIS. TASK FORCE ON DESIGN OF STATE SEAL CHAIR GARY STEVENS announced CSHCR 5(FIN) to be up for consideration. He noted there was a committee substitute and asked for a motion to adopt it. SENATOR GRETCHEN GUESS made a motion to adopt work draft 23- LSO367\H as the working document. There being no objection SCS CSHCR 5 was adopted as the working document. JOHN GREELY, staff to Representative Reggie Joule, told members that the state seal was created in 1910. It depicts one man's vision of Alaska in that era. The seal has a steam engine, a sailing ship, and a horse and plow, but Alaska Natives aren't depicted and neither is Anchorage because it didn't exist then. Because of that, Representative Joule and 12 other House cosponsors believe it's time to modernize the seal. The resolution creates a task force to provide suggestions for a new seal. The Legislature would vote on the design recommendations and commission the engraving. MR. GREELY explained that the current seal is the second one to represent Alaska's government. In 1885, Governor John Kincaid, designed a seal for the military district of Alaska that included northern lights, icebergs, and Alaska Natives. In 1910 Governor Walter Clark decided that the depictions on the seal were inappropriate so he had a new seal designed. The Department of Interior further modified the design before approving it and sending it back to Alaska. In 1911 an article in the "Alaska Yukon Magazine" described the seal as Governor Clark's view of "modern Alaska as he conceives it," including representations of the fishing industry, the timber industry, the fur seal industry and agriculture instead of the ancient conception of a land of cold and ice that has aboriginal people. The 1910 seal is the same today even though the state has undergone many changes. For instance, Anchorage didn't exist in 1910 and the oil and gas industry didn't either. This raises the question of whether or not urban Alaska deserves a place on the state seal and whether oil and gas should replace the fur seal industry. In that same vein, he questioned whether the plow and horse accurately represents agriculture in Alaska today. In 1910 half of the population in Alaska was Native, yet Governor Clark elected to drop any representation of them from the seal. He said, "I guess the question is can we fix that omission?" "In 1910 there was no public involvement in designing the seal. This Alaska Legislature can fix that oversight and provide a valuable learning experience for residents of all ages." This, he said, is a time to use our imaginations and design a new seal with symbols that are appropriate now and will continue to be appropriate in the future. CHAIR GARY STEVENS remarked that he wasn't aware of an earlier seal and as a former history teacher he found the presentation fascinating. SENATOR BERT STEDMAN commented that the fishing industry is still a major Alaskan industry and he's sure it won't be forgotten. MR. GREELY noted that the task force could approach the new design in any number of ways. They could suggest that the seal be changed completely or they could simply add new images to the present seal and keep the changes to a minimum. CHAIR GARY STEVENS jested that a discussion regarding an urban symbol might be interesting. MR. GREELY said that he wasn't sure what Alaska's largest urban center might look like in 100 years. There were no further questions or comments. SENATOR GRETCHEN GUESS made a motion to move SCS CSHCR 5(STA) from committee with individual recommendations and attached fiscal note. Furthermore, she suggested that the Chair sign on as a cosponsor. There being no objection, it was so ordered.