Lawmakers to review Coastal Management initiative

A joint hearing of the State House and Senate Judiciary Committees is scheduled for Monday afternoon to discuss a citizen’s initiative that aims to revive the Alaska Coastal Management Program.

If the initiative qualifies for the ballot, lawmakers have the option of overriding it by passing “substantially similar” legislation this session.

Testimony at Monday’s hearing is by invitation only. The Legislature’s Legal Services Director Doug Gardner will be on hand to answer lawmakers’ questions. Department of Commerce Community and Economic Development Commissioner Susan Bell, Office of Management and Budget Senior Economist John Boucher, and Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai are also scheduled to testify.

Juneau Mayor Bruce Botelho – the initiative’s main sponsor – will also be available to discuss the proposed ballot question.

Botelho has said sponsors would like to avoid a costly statewide campaign to get the initiative approved by voters. As of Friday morning, the Division of Elections had verified about 23,600 signatures submitted by the Alaska Sea Party. That’s about 2,000 short of the number needed to get the initiative on the statewide ballot. The group also had to get signatures from at least seven-percent of registered voters in 30 of the state’s 40 House districts.

The federally-funded Coastal Management Program allowed the state government and local communities to have input on federal permitting issues for development along Alaska’s vast coastline. It closed last year after lawmakers and the Parnell administration failed to reach a compromise to reauthorize it. The administration fought efforts to expand the role of local communities in the program.

Monday’s hearing will be at 1 p.m. in the Butrovich Room, number 205, at the Capitol Building. It will be broadcast on Gavel to Gavel and streamed online at Alaskalegislature.tv.

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