OPINION: Alaska’s constitution — if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it

By Frank Murkowski

I oppose a constitutional convention because it is not needed.

As a conservative, I subscribe to the principle to leave alone things in government that are working well. We have enough important things that need to change, like high inflation and the Biden administration’s efforts to close down drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, block the Ambler Road and reimpose the Roadless Rule on the Tongass National Forest.

Alaska’s original constitution is one of the things in government that is working well and should be left alone. Article XIII, Section 4 of the Alaska Constitution gives voters the opportunity every 10 years to vote on whether Alaska should hold a constitutional convention. Alaska voters have wisely turned it down by large margins in 1972, 1982, 1992, 2002 and 2012. We Alaskans should turn it down when the question is on the ballot again this year.

I oppose a constitutional convention because it is not needed. Alaska’s constitutional convention delegates drafted one of the strongest state constitutions in the nation. (As a former governor, I particularly applaud the fact that it provides for a strong executive.) If a need arises to change our constitution, Article 13, Section 1 provides a demonstrably workable mechanism for doing so, including ratification by a public vote. This amendment process has been used 40 times (28 times successfully), and was how the Permanent Fund was created.

I oppose a constitutional convention because proponents’ reasons for holding one now would be so different from the reasons for the constitutional convention held in Fairbanks in 1955. In that case, the 55 Alaska delegates had a common purpose — to convince Congress that Alaska was mature enough and would have a strong enough government to be a state. This time, delegates would have significantly different competing interests, many of which would be divisive and not in the state’s best interest.

Read more at the Anchorage Daily News.