Alaska Constitution
The Constitution of the State of Alaska is the constitution
State constitution (United States)
In the United States, each state has its own constitution.Usually, they are longer than the 7,500-word federal Constitution and are more detailed regarding the day-to-day relationships between government and the people. The shortest is the Constitution of Vermont, adopted in 1793 and currently...

 of the U.S. state
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

 of Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

. It was ratified in 1956 and took effect with Alaska's admission as a state on January 3, 1959.

The statehood movement

In the 1940s, the movement for Alaska statehood was gaining momentum within the territory
Alaska Territory
The Territory of Alaska was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from August 24, 1912, until January 3, 1959, when it was admitted to the Union as the State of Alaska...

, but stymied by opposition from Lower 48
Contiguous United States
The contiguous United States are the 48 U.S. states on the continent of North America that are south of Canada and north of Mexico, plus the District of Columbia....

 commercial interests and some members of Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

. Many statehood proponents felt that a well-written constitution would help advance the cause in Washington
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....


As a result, one of the duties the Alaska Territorial Legislature laid upon the Alaska Statehood Committee, established in 1949, was to "assemble applicable material, make studies and provide recommendations in a timely manner" preparatory to drafting a constitution.

Constitutional convention

On November 8, 1955, 55 elected delegates from across Alaska (a number chosen to echo the 55 in attendance at the Philadelphia Convention
Philadelphia Convention
The Constitutional Convention took place from May 14 to September 17, 1787, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to address problems in governing the United States of America, which had been operating under the Articles of Confederation following independence from...

 of 1787) met at the brand new student union building at the University of Alaska
University of Alaska Fairbanks
The University of Alaska Fairbanks, located in Fairbanks, Alaska, USA, is the flagship campus of the University of Alaska System, and is abbreviated as Alaska or UAF....

. The building, quickly christened Constitution Hall by the Board of Regents, was temporarily handed over to the delegates who assembled to create the new document at a constitutional convention
Constitutional convention (political meeting)
A constitutional convention is now a gathering for the purpose of writing a new constitution or revising an existing constitution. A general constitutional convention is called to create the first constitution of a political unit or to entirely replace an existing constitution...

. Fairbanks
Fairbanks may refer to:Places in the United States*Fairbanks, Alaska, city*Fairbanks, California, unincorporated community in El Dorado County*Fairbanks, Mendocino County, California, former settlement*Fairbanks, Indiana, unincorporated community...

 (technically, in this instance, College
College, Alaska
College is a census-designated place in Fairbanks North Star Borough, Alaska, United States. It is part of the Fairbanks, Alaska Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 13,493 in 2007....

) was selected as the site instead of Juneau
Juneau, Alaska
The City and Borough of Juneau is a unified municipality located on the Gastineau Channel in the panhandle of the U.S. state of Alaska. It has been the capital of Alaska since 1906, when the government of the then-District of Alaska was moved from Sitka as dictated by the U.S. Congress in 1900...

, the territorial capital, to escape the influence of lobbyists
Lobbying is the act of attempting to influence decisions made by officials in the government, most often legislators or members of regulatory agencies. Lobbying is done by various people or groups, from private-sector individuals or corporations, fellow legislators or government officials, or...

 and to benefit from the academic setting. The latter consideration was largely influenced by New Jersey
New Jersey
New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. , its population was 8,791,894. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania and on the southwest by Delaware...

's choice of Rutgers University
Rutgers University
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey , is the largest institution for higher education in New Jersey, United States. It was originally chartered as Queen's College in 1766. It is the eighth-oldest college in the United States and one of the nine Colonial colleges founded before the American...

 for its 1947 convention.

The convention was led by then-territorial Senator William A. Egan, who became the state's first governor. The other delegates, 49 men and six women, included territorial legislators Ralph J. Rivers, who became U.S. Representative
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

 from Alaska at-large
Alaska's At-large congressional district
Alaska's At-large congressional district comprises the entire state of Alaska. This congressional district has the largest land area and lowest population density of any district in the United States...

, and Jack Coghill
Jack Coghill
John Bruce "Jack" Coghill was the eighth lieutenant governor of Alaska, serving from 1990 to 1994 under Governor Walter Hickel. Both were members of the Alaskan Independence Party...

, who became lieutenant governor. Frank Peratrovich, the mayor of Klawock
Klawock, Alaska
Klawock is a city in Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area, in the U.S. state of Alaska, on the west coast of Prince of Wales Island, on Klawock Inlet, across from Klawock Island...

 who was also a territorial legislator, was the only Alaska Native among the delegates. The oldest delegate, Earnest B. Collins, was speaker of the 1st territorial House in 1913. Collins lived in Alaska longer than any delegate except for Peratrovich, having arrived in 1904. The youngest delegate, Thomas C. Harris, had only lived in Alaska for about 5 years, and was elected by about 150 votes cast in and around Valdez
Valdez, Alaska
Valdez is a city in Valdez-Cordova Census Area in the U.S. state of Alaska. According to 2005 Census Bureau estimates, the population of the city is 4,020. The city is one of the most important ports in Alaska. The port of Valdez was named in 1790 after the Spanish naval officer Antonio Valdés y...


Other delegates who were notable outside of law and politics include: legendary Fairbanks bush pilot Frank Barr; mining engineer and Fairbanks Exploration Company executive John C. Boswell; Swiss emigrant and Kachemak Bay
Kachemak Bay
Kachemak Bay is a 64-km-long arm of Cook Inlet in the U.S. state of Alaska, located on the southwest side of the Kenai Peninsula. The communities of Homer, Halibut Cove, Seldovia, Nanwalek, Port Graham, and Kachemak City are on the bay as well as three Old Believer settlements in the Fox River...

 homesteader Yule F. Kilcher, albeit somewhat better known to succeeding generations as the grandfather of popular singer Jewel Kilcher
Jewel (singer)
Jewel Kilcher , professionally known as Jewel, is an American singer-songwriter, guitarist, producer, actress and poet...

; World War II era military officer Marvin R. "Muktuk
Muktuk is the English word for the traditional, pre-agrarian, Inuit/Eskimo and Chukchi meal of frozen whale skin and blubber...

" Marston; Steve McCutcheon, a photographer whose collection represents a significant documentation of mid 20th century life in Alaska; Leslie Nerland, who took his father's department store in Fairbanks and turned it into a statewide empire, even extending to Hawaii
Hawaii is the newest of the 50 U.S. states , and is the only U.S. state made up entirely of islands. It is the northernmost island group in Polynesia, occupying most of an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean, southwest of the continental United States, southeast of Japan, and northeast of...

 at one point; and Ada Wien, member of both a pioneer Alaskan and pioneer aviation family.

The constitutional convention was in session for 75 days. The constitution was adopted by the delegates on February 5, 1956. The signing of the constitution the following day attracted nearly 1,000 spectators, so the event was moved to the university's gymnasium and library building. This building was renamed Signers' Hall in the late 1980s, and presently houses the administration of the current-day University of Alaska Fairbanks
University of Alaska Fairbanks
The University of Alaska Fairbanks, located in Fairbanks, Alaska, USA, is the flagship campus of the University of Alaska System, and is abbreviated as Alaska or UAF....

 campus. One delegate, R. E. Robertson
R. E. Robertson
Ralph Elliott Robertson , more commonly known as R. E. "Bob" Robertson, was an American lawyer and politician from the territory and state of Alaska. He was a member of the Republican Party....

, was absent, having resigned his position in protest of the finished document and returned to Juneau. The constitution was ratified by territorial voters on April 24, 1956 and became effective when the Alaska Statehood
Alaska Statehood Act
The Alaska Statehood Act was signed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on July 7, 1958, allowing Alaska to become the 49th U.S. state on January 3, 1959.-History: the road to Statehood:...

 Proclamation was signed on January 3, 1959.


The delegates drew on several sources for inspiration: the National Municipal League's
National Civic League
The National Civic League is an American non-profit organization that advocates for transparency, effectiveness, and openness in local government...

 "Model State Constitution
Model state constitution
The Model State Constitution is “an ideal of the structure and contents of a state constitution that emphasizes brevity and broad functions and responsibilities of government," according to Ann O’M Bowman and Richard Kearney in “State and Local Government.”...

" as well as the recently-adopted constitutions of Missouri
Missouri Constitution
The Missouri Constitution is the state constitution of the U.S. State of Missouri. It is the supreme law formulating the law and government of Missouri, subject only to the federal Constitution. The fourth and current Missouri Constitution was adopted in 1945...

, New Jersey
New Jersey State Constitution
The Constitution of the State of New Jersey is the basic governing document of the State of New Jersey. In addition to three British Royal Charters issued for East Jersey, West Jersey and united New Jersey while they were still colonies, the state has been governed by three constitutions...

, and Hawaii
Constitution of Hawaii
The Constitution of the State of Hawaiʻi refers to various legal documents throughout the history of the Hawaiian Islands that defined the fundamental principles of authority and governance within its sphere of jurisdiction. Numerous constitutions have been promulgated for the Kingdom of Hawaii,...

, and studies by consultants and constitutional law
Constitutional law
Constitutional law is the body of law which defines the relationship of different entities within a state, namely, the executive, the legislature and the judiciary....


One of the aims of the delegates was to produce a short, general document, on the model of the United States Constitution
United States Constitution
The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. It is the framework for the organization of the United States government and for the relationship of the federal government with the states, citizens, and all people within the United States.The first three...

. Rather than specify most aspects in minute detail, as did many state constitutions, the delegates chose instead to leave broad authority to future state legislatures. The resulting document is thus only half the average state constitution length of 26,000 words.

Much of the language in the new constitution was a reaction against weak territorial institutions (thus the strong legislature and executive
Executive (government)
Executive branch of Government is the part of government that has sole authority and responsibility for the daily administration of the state bureaucracy. The division of power into separate branches of government is central to the idea of the separation of powers.In many countries, the term...

 provided for in Articles II and III). At the same time, a state constitutional reform movement was growing in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, and ideas such as the "broad strokes" approach and the unified judiciary
The judiciary is the system of courts that interprets and applies the law in the name of the state. The judiciary also provides a mechanism for the resolution of disputes...

 of Article IV incorporated leading constitutional thought.


We the people of Alaska, grateful to God and to those who founded our nation and pioneered this great land, in order to secure and transmit to succeeding generations our heritage of political, civil, and religious liberty within the Union of States, do ordain and establish this constitution for the State of Alaska.

Article I: Declaration of Rights

The constitution begins by establishing the basic rights of Alaska's citizens. Much of Article I essentially reiterates the United States Bill of Rights
United States Bill of Rights
The Bill of Rights is the collective name for the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution. These limitations serve to protect the natural rights of liberty and property. They guarantee a number of personal freedoms, limit the government's power in judicial and other proceedings, and...

, but includes several original provisions. Section 3 bans discrimination based on "race
Racism is the belief that inherent different traits in human racial groups justify discrimination. In the modern English language, the term "racism" is used predominantly as a pejorative epithet. It is applied especially to the practice or advocacy of racial discrimination of a pernicious nature...

, color, creed
Religious discrimination
Religious discrimination is valuing or treating a person or group differently because of what they do or do not believe.A concept like that of 'religious discrimination' is necessary to take into account ambiguities of the term religious persecution. The infamous cases in which people have been...

, sex
Sexism, also known as gender discrimination or sex discrimination, is the application of the belief or attitude that there are characteristics implicit to one's gender that indirectly affect one's abilities in unrelated areas...

, or national origin
Nativism may refer to:* Nativism or political nativism, a term used by scholars to refer to ethnocentric beliefs relating to immigration and nationalism; antiforeignism...

". Section 7, which largely mirrors the Due Process protections under Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment
Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was adopted on July 9, 1868, as one of the Reconstruction Amendments.Its Citizenship Clause provides a broad definition of citizenship that overruled the Dred Scott v...

, extends protection to "legislative and executive investigations", a reaction against McCarthyism
McCarthyism is the practice of making accusations of disloyalty, subversion, or treason without proper regard for evidence. The term has its origins in the period in the United States known as the Second Red Scare, lasting roughly from the late 1940s to the late 1950s and characterized by...

. Section 22 establishes the right to privacy
Privacy is the ability of an individual or group to seclude themselves or information about themselves and thereby reveal themselves selectively...

; the Alaska Supreme Court
Alaska Supreme Court
The Alaska Supreme Court is the state supreme court in the State of Alaska's judicial department . The supreme court is composed of the chief justice and four associate justices, who are all appointed by the governor of Alaska and face judicial retention elections and who choose one of their own...

 has interpreted this to protect, among other things, home possession of small amounts of marijuana 

Article II: The Legislature
A legislature is a kind of deliberative assembly with the power to pass, amend, and repeal laws. The law created by a legislature is called legislation or statutory law. In addition to enacting laws, legislatures usually have exclusive authority to raise or lower taxes and adopt the budget and...

Article II establishes a bicameral
In the government, bicameralism is the practice of having two legislative or parliamentary chambers. Thus, a bicameral parliament or bicameral legislature is a legislature which consists of two chambers or houses....

 Alaska Legislature
Alaska Legislature
The Alaska Legislature is the state legislature of the U.S. state of Alaska. It is a bicameral institution, consisting of the lower Alaska House of Representatives, with 40 members, and the upper house Alaska Senate, with 20 members...

, composed of 20 senators
Alaska Senate
The Alaska Senate is the upper house in the Alaska Legislature, the state legislature of the U.S. state of Alaska. The Senate consists of twenty members, each of whom represents an equal amount of districts with populations of about 31,347 people . Senators serve four-year terms, without term...

 elected for four years and 40 representatives
Alaska House of Representatives
The Alaska House of Representatives is the lower house in the Alaska Legislature, the state legislature of the U.S. state of Alaska. The House is composed of 40 members, each of whom represents a district of about 15,673 people . Members serve two-year terms without term limits...

 elected for two. Many delegates favored a unicameral
In government, unicameralism is the practice of having one legislative or parliamentary chamber. Thus, a unicameral parliament or unicameral legislature is a legislature which consists of one chamber or house...

 legislature; this failed but is reflected in the large number of purposes for which joint sessions are required. The delegates trusted the legislature to act responsibly, so the constitution does not contain the detailed limits on the legislature often found in other states.

Article III: The Executive
Executive (government)
Executive branch of Government is the part of government that has sole authority and responsibility for the daily administration of the state bureaucracy. The division of power into separate branches of government is central to the idea of the separation of powers.In many countries, the term...

Article III vests executive power in a governor elected for four years. The governor and lieutenant governor are elected on a single ticket, and are the only statewide elected officials. Territorial executives were weak, with federal bureaucracy
A bureaucracy is an organization of non-elected officials of a governmental or organization who implement the rules, laws, and functions of their institution, and are occasionally characterized by officialism and red tape.-Weberian bureaucracy:...

 exerting weight from above and elected territorial legislatures limiting the authority of the Presidentially
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

-appointed governor with a variety of special commissions. The delegates desired a strong, streamlined executive, so Article III gives the governor more power than most of his or her counterparts in other states. The governor also has a large amount of patronage; he appoints the heads of all executive departments (most states provide for some to be elected), who are required in general to be people, not multi-member boards.

Article IV: The Judiciary
The judiciary is the system of courts that interprets and applies the law in the name of the state. The judiciary also provides a mechanism for the resolution of disputes...

Article IV creates the Alaska Court System
Alaska Court System
The Alaska Court System is the unified, centrally administered, and totally state-funded judicial system for the State of Alaska. It has four levels of state courts: the Alaska Supreme Court, the Alaska Court of Appeals, the Alaska Superior Court, and the Alaska District Court...

. While in many states judicial authority is fragmented among several levels of jurisdiction with many special courts, the delegates designed the Alaska judiciary to be a single, unified system. The constitution specifies the Alaska Supreme Court
Alaska Supreme Court
The Alaska Supreme Court is the state supreme court in the State of Alaska's judicial department . The supreme court is composed of the chief justice and four associate justices, who are all appointed by the governor of Alaska and face judicial retention elections and who choose one of their own...

, the Alaska Superior Court, and leaves other courts to be "established by the legislature" as needed. Article IV provides for Missouri Plan
Missouri Plan
The Missouri Plan is a method for the selection of judges. It originated in Missouri in 1940, and has been adopted by several states of the United States...

 selection of judge
A judge is a person who presides over court proceedings, either alone or as part of a panel of judges. The powers, functions, method of appointment, discipline, and training of judges vary widely across different jurisdictions. The judge is supposed to conduct the trial impartially and in an open...


Article V: Voting
Voting is a method for a group such as a meeting or an electorate to make a decision or express an opinion—often following discussions, debates, or election campaigns. It is often found in democracies and republics.- Reasons for voting :...

 and Election
An election is a formal decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual to hold public office. Elections have been the usual mechanism by which modern representative democracy operates since the 17th century. Elections may fill offices in the legislature, sometimes in the...


Article V's provisions are mostly standard, setting such things as voting age
Voting age
A voting age is a minimum age established by law that a person must attain to be eligible to vote in a public election.The vast majority of countries in the world have established a voting age. Most governments consider that those of any age lower than the chosen threshold lack the necessary...

 and election dates. It guarantees both the secret ballot
Secret ballot
The secret ballot is a voting method in which a voter's choices in an election or a referendum are anonymous. The key aim is to ensure the voter records a sincere choice by forestalling attempts to influence the voter by intimidation or bribery. The system is one means of achieving the goal of...

 and provides for judicial review of contested election results. A requirement that voters must be able to "read or speak the English language
Literacy test
A literacy test, in the context of United States political history, refers to the government practice of testing the literacy of potential citizens at the federal level, and potential voters at the state level. The federal government first employed literacy tests as part of the immigration process...

" was removed by amendment in 1970 after the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965
Voting Rights Act
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is a landmark piece of national legislation in the United States that outlawed discriminatory voting practices that had been responsible for the widespread disenfranchisement of African Americans in the U.S....


Article VI: Legislative Apportionment
Apportionment (politics)
Apportionment is the process of allocating political power among a set of principles . In most representative governments, political power has most recently been apportioned among constituencies based on population, but there is a long history of different approaches.The United States Constitution,...

Article VI sets procedures for decennial reapportionment. This is carried out by an appointed board, rather than the legislature as in most states; prior to 1998 amendments, the governor held this authority.

Article VII: Health
Health is the level of functional or metabolic efficiency of a living being. In humans, it is the general condition of a person's mind, body and spirit, usually meaning to be free from illness, injury or pain...

, Education
Education in its broadest, general sense is the means through which the aims and habits of a group of people lives on from one generation to the next. Generally, it occurs through any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts...

, and Welfare

Article VII is the shortest in the constitution, mandating a "system of public school
Education in the United States
Education in the United States is mainly provided by the public sector, with control and funding coming from three levels: federal, state, and local. Child education is compulsory.Public education is universally available...

s open to all children of the State [...] free from sectarian control", establishing the University of Alaska as the state university
Public university
A public university is a university that is predominantly funded by public means through a national or subnational government, as opposed to private universities. A national university may or may not be considered a public university, depending on regions...

, and directing the legislature to "provide for the promotion and protection of public health
Public health
Public health is "the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting health through the organized efforts and informed choices of society, organizations, public and private, communities and individuals" . It is concerned with threats to health based on population health...

" and "provide for public welfare".

Article VIII: Natural Resources
Natural Resources
Natural Resources is a soul album released by Motown girl group Martha Reeves and the Vandellas in 1970 on the Gordy label. The album is significant for the Vietnam War ballad "I Should Be Proud" and the slow jam, "Love Guess Who"...

Article VIII is the first article dealing solely and broadly with resources to appear in a state constitution. The delegates wished to curtail what was seen as abuse of Alaska's resources (see Ordinance No. 3) and ensure reasonable development to broaden Alaska's economic
An economy consists of the economic system of a country or other area; the labor, capital and land resources; and the manufacturing, trade, distribution, and consumption of goods and services of that area...

 base. The chief principle was that resources should be managed as a public trust
Public trust doctrine
The public trust doctrine is the principle that certain resources are preserved for public use, and that the government is required to maintain them for the public's reasonable use.-Origins:...

, providing "for maximum use consistent with the public interest
Public interest
The public interest refers to the "common well-being" or "general welfare." The public interest is central to policy debates, politics, democracy and the nature of government itself...

", further defined as "utilization, development, and conservation
Conservation ethic
Conservation is an ethic of resource use, allocation, and protection. Its primary focus is upon maintaining the health of the natural world: its, fisheries, habitats, and biological diversity. Secondary focus is on materials conservation and energy conservation, which are seen as important to...

... for the maximum benefit of [the] people"; for common access to resources; and for development to be based on sustainable yield
Sustainable yield
The sustainable yield of natural capital is the ecological yield that can be extracted without reducing the base of capital itself, i.e. the surplus required to maintain ecosystem services at the same or increasing level over time. This yield usually varies over time with the needs of the...

. Article VIII also provides for state park
State park
State parks are parks or other protected areas managed at the federated state level within those nations which use "state" as a political subdivision. State parks are typically established by a state to preserve a location on account of its natural beauty, historic interest, or recreational...

s and protected area
Protected area
Protected areas are locations which receive protection because of their recognised natural, ecological and/or cultural values. There are several kinds of protected areas, which vary by level of protection depending on the enabling laws of each country or the regulations of the international...

s, and for the leasing
A lease is a contractual arrangement calling for the lessee to pay the lessor for use of an asset. A rental agreement is a lease in which the asset is tangible property...

 of state lands for resource development.

Article IX: Finance
"Finance" is often defined simply as the management of money or “funds” management Modern finance, however, is a family of business activity that includes the origination, marketing, and management of cash and money surrogates through a variety of capital accounts, instruments, and markets created...

 and Taxation

Article IX deals with budget
A budget is a financial plan and a list of all planned expenses and revenues. It is a plan for saving, borrowing and spending. A budget is an important concept in microeconomics, which uses a budget line to illustrate the trade-offs between two or more goods...

ing, appropriation
Appropriation (law)
In law and government, appropriation is the act of setting apart something for its application to a particular usage, to the exclusion of all other uses....

s, tax exemption
Tax exemption
Various tax systems grant a tax exemption to certain organizations, persons, income, property or other items taxable under the system. Tax exemption may also refer to a personal allowance or specific monetary exemption which may be claimed by an individual to reduce taxable income under some...

s, public debt
Government debt
Government debt is money owed by a central government. In the US, "government debt" may also refer to the debt of a municipal or local government...

, and bans "earmarking
Earmark (politics)
In United States politics, an earmark is a legislative provision that directs approved funds to be spent on specific projects, or that directs specific exemptions from taxes or mandated fees...

". Later amendments established the Alaska Permanent Fund
Alaska Permanent Fund
The Alaska Permanent Fund is a constitutionally established permanent fund, managed by a semi-independent corporation, established by Alaska in 1976, primarily by the efforts of then Governor Jay Hammond...

 and budget reserves.

Article X: Local Government
Local government
Local government refers collectively to administrative authorities over areas that are smaller than a state.The term is used to contrast with offices at nation-state level, which are referred to as the central government, national government, or federal government...

Article X provides for Alaska's unique borough system. Local government in the territory was undeveloped, due to its sparse population and the Organic Act
Organic Act
An Organic Act, in United States law, is an Act of the United States Congress that establishes a territory of the United States or an agency to manage certain federal lands. The first such act was the Northwest Ordinance, enacted by the Congress of the Confederation in 1787 in order to create the...

 of 1912 which banned the creation of counties
County (United States)
In the United States, a county is a geographic subdivision of a state , usually assigned some governmental authority. The term "county" is used in 48 of the 50 states; Louisiana is divided into parishes and Alaska into boroughs. Parishes and boroughs are called "county-equivalents" by the U.S...

. The delegates wished to avoid the pitfalls of the traditional county system, such as overlapping jurisdictions and service districts, and tightly constrained local bodies, so they created an entirely new system. The aim, as stated in Section 1, was "to provide for maximum local self-government with a minimum of local government units, and to prevent duplication of tax-levying jurisdictions." Thus Article X states that the only local government units are cities
Municipal corporation
A municipal corporation is the legal term for a local governing body, including cities, counties, towns, townships, charter townships, villages, and boroughs. Municipal incorporation occurs when such municipalities become self-governing entities under the laws of the state or province in which...

 and boroughs (both organized and unorganized
Unorganized Borough
The Unorganized Borough is the part of the U.S. state of Alaska not contained in any of its 18 organized boroughs. It encompasses more than half of Alaska's area, , an area larger than any other US state...

), and only organized boroughs and cities may levy taxes.

Article XI: The Initiative
In political science, an initiative is a means by which a petition signed by a certain minimum number of registered voters can force a public vote...

, Referendum
A referendum is a direct vote in which an entire electorate is asked to either accept or reject a particular proposal. This may result in the adoption of a new constitution, a constitutional amendment, a law, the recall of an elected official or simply a specific government policy. It is a form of...

, and Recall
Recall election
A recall election is a procedure by which voters can remove an elected official from office through a direct vote before his or her term has ended...

Article XI sets out procedures for the use of initiatives to "propose and enact laws", referendums to "approve and reject acts of the legislature", and elections to recall public officials. It also restricts the initiative and referendum from being used in certain areas, such as appropriations or to enact special legislation
Special legislation
Special legislation is a legal term of art used in the United States which refers to acts of a state legislature which apply only to a specific municipality which is identified by name in the legislation.In some states, such as Pennsylvania, the state constitution prohibits special legislation;...


Article XII: General Provisions

Article XII is a miscellaneous article, containing definitions of terms, setting the state boundaries, and prescribing the oath of office
Oath of office
An oath of office is an oath or affirmation a person takes before undertaking the duties of an office, usually a position in government or within a religious body, although such oaths are sometimes required of officers of other organizations...

 and merit system
Merit system
The merit system is the process of promoting and hiring government employees based on their ability to perform a job, rather than on their political connections. It is the opposite of the spoils system.- History :...

, among other things.

Article XIII: Amendment
Constitutional amendment
A constitutional amendment is a formal change to the text of the written constitution of a nation or state.Most constitutions require that amendments cannot be enacted unless they have passed a special procedure that is more stringent than that required of ordinary legislation...

 and Revision

Article XIII sets procedures for constitutional amendment. Amendments can originate either with the legislature or at a constitutional convention, and are voted on at the next general election
General election
In a parliamentary political system, a general election is an election in which all or most members of a given political body are chosen. The term is usually used to refer to elections held for a nation's primary legislative body, as distinguished from by-elections and local elections.The term...

. Constitutional conventions can be called by the Legislature at any time; additionally, every ten years a referendum must be taken on whether to hold a convention. All four such referendums held to date have failed.

Article XIV: Apportionment Schedule

Article XIV set up the initial apportionment of the legislature, to be used prior to the first post-statehood census
United States Census
The United States Census is a decennial census mandated by the United States Constitution. The population is enumerated every 10 years and the results are used to allocate Congressional seats , electoral votes, and government program funding. The United States Census Bureau The United States Census...

, and is now obsolete.

Article XV: Schedule of Transitional Measures

Article XV dealt with eventual Alaska statehood, focusing on legal continuity and establishment of the new state government. Since it is no longer a working part of the constitution, Alaska courts have ruled that it can be modified by statute
A statute is a formal written enactment of a legislative authority that governs a state, city, or county. Typically, statutes command or prohibit something, or declare policy. The word is often used to distinguish law made by legislative bodies from case law, decided by courts, and regulations...

 or initiative. This has allowed, for instance, the various initiatives to move the state capital, as Juneau's capital status is defined in Section 20.


The referendum on constitutional ratification contained three ballot measures to be voted upon, as provided in Article XV, Section 24.

Ordinance No. 1 was the ratifying proposition itself: Shall the Constitution for the State of Alaska prepared and agreed upon by the Alaska Constitutional Convention be adopted? Ordinance No. 1 passed 17,447–8,180.

Ordinance No. 2 provided for the adoption of the "Alaska-Tennessee Plan", which provided that two U.S. Senators
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 and a Representative
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

 should be elected to serve as a "shadow" delegation until statehood. Ordinance No. 2 passed 15,011–9,556.

Ordinance No. 3 outlawed the use of fish
Fish are a paraphyletic group of organisms that consist of all gill-bearing aquatic vertebrate animals that lack limbs with digits. Included in this definition are the living hagfish, lampreys, and cartilaginous and bony fish, as well as various extinct related groups...

Trap (tactic)
A trap is a device intended to catch an intruder or prey. "Trap" may also refer to the tactic of catching or harming an adversary. Conversely it may also mean a hindrance for change, being caught in a trap.-Device:*Animal trapping*Bird trapping...

s in commercial salmon
Salmon is the common name for several species of fish in the family Salmonidae. Several other fish in the same family are called trout; the difference is often said to be that salmon migrate and trout are resident, but this distinction does not strictly hold true...

 fishing. This issue had special significance in territorial Alaska. Fish traps, usually operated by Outside
Contiguous United States
The contiguous United States are the 48 U.S. states on the continent of North America that are south of Canada and north of Mexico, plus the District of Columbia....

-owned canneries
Canning is a method of preserving food in which the food contents are processed and sealed in an airtight container. Canning provides a typical shelf life ranging from one to five years, although under specific circumstances a freeze-dried canned product, such as canned, dried lentils, can last as...

 and widely blamed for the near-collapse of the salmon fishery, were seen as a symbol of exploitation of Alaska by absentee commercial interests. Former territorial Governor Ernest Gruening
Ernest Gruening
Ernest Henry Gruening was an American journalist and Democrat who was the Governor of the Alaska Territory from 1939 until 1953, and a United States Senator from Alaska from 1959 until 1969.-Early life:...

 alluded to the issue in his keynote
A keynote in literature, music, or public speaking establishes the principal underlying theme. In corporate or commercial settings, greater importance is attached to the delivery of a keynote speech or keynote address...

 address to the convention:

The people of Alaska have repeatedly and unchangingly manifested their overwhelming opposition to fish traps. [...] But fish trap beneficiaries, residents of the mother country, want to retain their Alaska traps. So the traps are retained. And it is the power and authority of the federal government which retains them. In a clear-cut issue between the few, profiting, non-colonial Americans and the many, seriously damaged, colonial Alaskans, the state-side interest wins hands down.

Ordinance No. 3 passed 21,285–4,004.


As of 2006 there have been 28 amendment
Constitutional amendment
A constitutional amendment is a formal change to the text of the written constitution of a nation or state.Most constitutions require that amendments cannot be enacted unless they have passed a special procedure that is more stringent than that required of ordinary legislation...

s to the Alaska Constitution, as well as 12 which were rejected by voters. This is substantially fewer than in most state constitutions (which average 115 amendments), due both to the short period the constitution has been in force and to its generalized construction.

Amendments which passed include Article I's right-to-privacy clause and ban on sexual discrimination (1972), an amendment authorizing the Alaska Permanent Fund
Alaska Permanent Fund
The Alaska Permanent Fund is a constitutionally established permanent fund, managed by a semi-independent corporation, established by Alaska in 1976, primarily by the efforts of then Governor Jay Hammond...

 (1976), and an amendment banning same-sex marriage
Same-sex marriage
Same-sex marriage is marriage between two persons of the same biological sex or social gender. Supporters of legal recognition for same-sex marriage typically refer to such recognition as marriage equality....


Further reading

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