Coastal management initiative hearings to wrap up in Juneau
The coastal management roadshow comes to Juneau tomorrow (Thursday), as Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell’s office wraps up a month-long series of hearings on Ballot Measure 2.
The citizen’s initiative on the August primary ballot would restore the Alaska Coastal Management Program. It’s the first measure to fall under a 2010 state law requiring at least eight public hearings — two in each judicial district — on citizen-sponsored legislation up to 30 days before Election Day.
Treadwell, whose office oversees state elections, scheduled ten hearings on the coastal management initiative. He says they’re patterned after a legislative hearing.
“We have the pro side speak for up to 15 minutes about why this measure should become law, and the con side speak for up to 15 minutes about why it shouldn’t. So the first hour is basically laying out the bill,” Treadwell says. “Then we open it up to the citizens – the lawmakers in this case – to ask questions. And for me, I’ve learned the most about the bill and the concerns people have and so forth in just the questions.”
Citizens also are given an opportunity to speak in favor or against the initiative.
Treadwell has attended all but one of the hearings. Poor weather prevented him from making it to Kodiak. He says turnout has been good, with more than 25 people participating in person at each location and many more taking part telephonically.
“Many of them have been legislators or people who were actively involved in the process when we had a coastal management program,” he says. “But we’ve also had people call in from all over the state. So, I think it has been a useful process.”
Alaska had a federally recognized coastal management program for more than 30 years, before the legislature and Parnell administration failed to strike a deal to reauthorize it in 2011. The program allowed state and local officials to set up a review process and standards for development along Alaska’s coastline.
Ballot Measure 2 was sponsored by the Alaska Sea Party, a group chaired by Juneau Mayor Bruce Botelho. He and other supporters have argued the lack of coastal management program hurts the state and it residents’ ability to provide input on development decisions.
Representatives of the Vote No on 2 campaign have charged that the initiative is confusing and would be difficult to implement.
The public hearing on the measure will be held Thursday in Juneau Assembly chambers between 4 and 7 p.m. Those who can’t attend in person can call in to a teleconference number, 1-855-463-5009, or watch online at alaskalegislature.tv.