Legislature(1999 - 2000)

2000-07-14 House Journal

Full Journal pdf

2000-07-14                     House Journal                      Page 3849
HB 133                                                                       
The following letter dated May 19, 2000, was received:                         
"Dear Speaker Porter:                                                          
Under the authority of art. II, sec. 15, of the Alaska Constitution, I         
have vetoed the following bill:                                                
SENATE CS FOR CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 133(CRA) am S                             
"An Act relating to municipal service areas and providing for voter           
approval of the formation, alteration, or abolishment of certain               
service areas."                                                                
This bill amends the rights of certain general law as well as home rule        
municipalities to form, alter, or abolish certain service areas within         
their jurisdiction.  In fact, for the first time since statehood, the rights   
of Alaska's home rule municipalities in forming, altering, and                 
abolishing service areas are limited by statute.  Additionally, this bill      
creates an exemption for which only one general law borough qualifies          
from the limits imposed in this bill.                                          
This legislation imposes unduly restrictive methods on boroughs in             
creating and managing their service areas.  It mandates that a majority        
of voters in the areas, and those affected by the changes outside the          
service area, vote to approve the change before it can be implemented.         
This severely restricts the power of boroughs and will diminish the            
local government's ability to deal effectively and timely with needed          
changes.  This bill has the potential of placing substantive power with        
a minority of voters, thus shifting the governmental power from the            
borough assembly, whose members are elected borough-wide, to                   
service area boards whose members are elected only by residents of the         
service area or appointed.  This is contrary to the concept of borough         
government under art. X, secs. 1, 3, 4, and 5 of the Alaska                    
Constitution, as well as contrary to the concept of liberal home rule          
powers under art. X, sec. 11 of the Alaska Constitution.                       

2000-07-14                     House Journal                      Page 3850
HB 133                                                                       
This bill also raises serious constitutional concerns by imposing              
limitations on home rule boroughs and unified municipalities.  Home            
rule municipalities have a constitutional grant of authority that gives        
them liberal control over matters purely of local concern. How service         
areas are established and governed has historically been dealt with in         
home rule charters as part of the organic law of a particular home rule        
municipality.  And where a home rule municipality is concerned with            
a matter of purely local concern, the charter and not a legislative act        
is looked to in order to determine whether a particular power has been         
conferred upon the municipality.  It would be incongruous to recognize         
the constitutional provision that a home rule municipality "may                
exercise all legislative powers not prohibited by law or by charter", and      
then to say that the power of a home rule city is measured by a                
legislative act.  Lien v. City of Ketchikan, 383P.2d 721, 723 (Alaska          
In addition, the exemption from the provisions of this bill provided to        
only one borough in the state may violate the constitutional prohibition       
against special and local legislation.  Such a specific classification of      
borough (particularly a general law borough of which there are six             
others in the state of the same class), coupled with the specific              
population limitation, makes it questionable whether there is a rational       
basis to exempt one general law borough from the requirements for the          
municipal service areas addressed in this bill.  This exemption is             
doubly troublesome considering the limitations of this bill are applied        
to all home rule boroughs and unified municipalities while one general         
law borough qualifies for the exemption.  This specialized treatment           
does not appear to have a rational basis stated in the legislative history,    
and it is incongruous with the constitutional powers granted home rule         
This bill raises serious constitutional violations and, for that reason, I     
must veto this legislation.                                                    
							Tony Knowles