Over 70% of Alaskans want them; Will we get them back?

The Alaska Legislature has taken up four bills to address the damage that has been done to our campaign finance laws in a recent Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision. It has been a breath of fresh air to watch the legislative process in action, and to communicate with our legislators, as these bills have been considered and debated. From all appearances, our legislators recognize the importance to our democratic form of government of reinstating reasonable limits on campaign donations in Alaska.

As of the date of this writing in mid-March 2022, both HB 245 and HB 234 have passed out of committee and are waiting to be scheduled for a floor vote. During the committee hearings, the legislators were focused on the issues, asked good questions and researched the answers to those questions. It is up to us as concerned citizens to urge further action and to provide feedback on the bills. And there is no time to be wasted as a similar bill must still pass the Senate and be accepted by the governor.

During the hearings, the legislators recognized that the options available to them were constrained by limiting court decisions regarding campaign finance laws. While they can regulate candidate fund-raising, they have less ability to regulate dark money and independent expenditures by PACs (Political Action Committees). Even though 73 percent of Alaskans supported the more restrictive campaign finance limits that were struck down by the courts, the legislature cannot reinstate those types of limits until we pass the 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution. They need to realize they can pass a resolution calling for such an amendment, and this would put pressure on the Alaska Congressional delegation to get behind national legislation because it is impacting our state.

The Alaska legislature has many important issues on its plate. The two campaign finance bills in the House (HB 234 and 245) and the two campaign finance bills in the Senate (SB 155 and 158) are among the most important bills in play. Unless we reinstate reasonable limitations on campaign donations, our balanced republican form of government is at grave risk of the corrupting influence of big money. These bills are well worth following and acting on by calling or writing your Legislators now.

Without something, we will have gone from a state with one of the most restrictive spending limits to one of about a dozen who have none.

Beverly Churchill is a member of Alaska Move to Amend, whose mission includes educating Alaskans on constitutional issues regarding personhood and money as a form of free speech.

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