Coastal management initiative hearing process explained

The Alaska Coastal Management road show is about to get underway.

A series of ten public hearings on Ballot Measure 2 will be held around the state in July, starting next Monday in Soldotna and ending July 26th in Juneau. The citizen’s initiative would restore the Alaska Coastal Management Program, which state lawmakers failed to reauthorize during the 2011 regular and special sessions.

It’s the first measure to fall under a new state law requiring at least eight public hearings on an initiative up to 30 days before Election Day. Anchorage Republican Representative Charisse Millett sponsored House Bill 36, which Governor Parnell signed in 2010. Millett says the law is meant to provide a more open and transparent initiative process.

“Initiatives are very powerful. They’re more powerful than a law that any legislature can create,” says Millett. “They last for two years, they can’t be vetoed by the governor, and they can be amended but in a very small amount.”

Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell – whose office oversees state elections – says the public hearings will largely follow the format of a legislative meeting. Supporters and opponents of measure two will make official statements and the public will have a chance to testify. Treadwell says all the hearings will be recorded.

“This like any other legislative hearing is a legislative record,” Treadwell says. “When you make a law sometimes there are court challenges later on. Sometimes they’re a long time later on, and people want to know what was the intent of the voter? Well, in this case we will have the hearing record from these ten different hearings, and that would be available say for a court challenge or for people in state government if the initiative passes who may want to figure out what was thought at the time when they get into implementation.”

Treadwell’s office held a press conference today (Monday) in Anchorage, featuring representatives from the pro measure two Alaska Sea Party and the “Vote No on 2” campaign.

Sea party co-chair Terzah Tippin Poe says claims that local communities would have veto power over large development projects under measure two are simply untrue.

“Coastal management does not stop development,” says Tippin Poe. “It is a unifying force that resolves potential issues, making it easier to do business in Alaska.”

But “No on 2” spokesman Rick Rogers says the initiative is much broader and more complex than the coastal management program legislators failed to reauthorize last year. He said if the measure actually cut red tape and made it easier to do develop, regulated businesses would be lining up to support it.

“Ballot Measure 2 a wholly new complex, poorly conceived regulatory framework will hurt Alaska’s economy and cost Alaskans jobs,” Rogers says. “My organization, the Resource Development Council, supports responsible well designed coastal zone management. Ballot Measure 2 is far from that.”

The federal Coastal Zone Management Act allows states that adopt an approved coastal management program to have greater input into development decisions along their coastlines. It also streamlines the regulatory processes of various local, state, and federal agencies. Alaska’s program had been in place for 32 years prior to closing last year.

Measure two will appear on the August 28th primary ballot. A schedule of the public hearings on the initiative can be found at the lieutenant governor’s website, ltgov.alaska.gov.