Testimony in support of SB 23 - initiative severability
April 13, 2021 | Senate State Affairs Committee

Good afternoon Good afternoon Chair Shower and members of the committee. My name is Marleanna Hall, and I am the executive director for the Resource Development Council for Alaska, Inc., commonly referred to as RDC. 

RDC has reviewed SB 23, and called in today to request the members of SSTA pass the bill out of committee. After hearing the discussion, it sounds like that will happen, so thank you all in advance. RDC is on the record with a letter of support previously submitted. Since I am on the line, I’d like to briefly share additional points in support of why we need SB 23.

As you’re aware, Alaska voters have the ability to participate in the legislative process by either passing law or overturning law through the ballot measure process. Voters can support initiatives by writing them, signing on to them, and voting for what is proposed. Throughout these three actions, the language should remain unchanged from what is signed in support of. SB 23 would remove the court’s ability to sever language, leaving the language untouched.

As the law is currently written, rather than ensuring that ballot initiative language passes legal and constitutional muster before being presented to voters, RDC is concerned groups will rely on Alaska’s courts for legal editing services. 

SB 23 will send a message to proponents that the language of the initiative must be carefully drafted to ensure it is constitutional. Thank you for the opportunity to provide comments today.