Legislature(2003 - 2004)

03/11/2004 03:35 PM STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= 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                                                               
SENATOR  BERT  STEDMAN commented  that  the  fishing industry  is                                                               
still  a  major  Alaskan  industry  and he's  sure  it  won't  be                                                               
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.                                                                    

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