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Initiative & Referendum Institute

at the University of Southern California 


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Initiatives (1960-2000)

 


 

Steps to Undertake an Initiative Campaign

 


 

Constitutional and Statutory Provisions

 


 

Historical Information (Division of Elections)

 


Alaska

Alaska became the 20th initiative state when it entered the Union in 1959.  A total of 41 initiatives have appeared on the ballot through 2007. Alaska’s constitution does not allow constitutional amendments by initiative, and prohibits measures that dedicate revenue or appropriate money.

The first three initiatives (and four of the first six) concerned the location of the state capital. The state's first initiative, in 1960, asked voters to move the capital from Juneau to Anchorage, which is closer to the population center. That proposal was rejected, as was a similar measure in 1962. Voters finally approved an initiative to relocate the state capitol in 1974, but the legislature failed to appropriate funds for the move. Voters approved another initiative in 1978, this time requiring the state to determine the cost of relocation and requiring voter approval for any related bond issue. The bond issue went to the voters in 1980, and they rejected it. The voters rejected another attempt to relocate the capital, this time to Wasilla, in 1994. That year they also approved an initiative giving the public the right to know the cost of relocating the state capital. Most recently, in 2002, voters passed an initiative to move the sessions of the legislature from Juneau to the Matanuska-Susitna borough in the Anchorage metro area.

Initiatives concerning wildlife and natural resources have also been common on the ballot, with mixed results for environmentalists.  Fishing measures were on the ballot in 1976 and 1982. Voters banned airborne hunting of wolves in 1994, but rejected a proposed ban on the use of snares for trapping wolves (1998) and ban on bear baiting (2004). A bottle deposit law was rejected in 1978. A call for a nuclear weapon freeze was approved in 1986.

A series of drug legalization measures have also appeared. A 1990 measure that reduced penalties for marijuana possession was approved, but proposals to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana for private use were rejected in 2000 and 2004.

 

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