Senior Voice -

Constitutional Convention would undermine Alaskans' interests

Letters to the Editor

 

October 1, 2022 | View PDF



Dear Editor,

Seniors should vote Nov. 8 against a convention to revise our state constitution. We could lose a lot in a convention.

Article XII, Section 7 says benefits that state, borough, city and school district retirees have accrued “shall not be diminished or impaired” but, even with that protection, the Retired Public Employees of Alaska has had to sue the state repeatedly to roll back diminishments. The retiree trust funds are underfunded by billions, so in a convention there’d probably be a drive to eliminate that debt by killing the “shall not be diminished” clause.

Article VII requires the legislature to provide for public health and welfare, ensuring that services and benefits are available for us seniors. But a convention could eliminate or weaken those requirements.

Convention delegates could add, delete and alter any and all of our constitution. Everything would be on the table. It would be a Pandora’s Box of unforeseen consequences.

If voters approve a convention, then we’d elect delegates. Any adult Alaskan could run, but many legislators would likely be elected, since they have name recognition and campaign experience. Unlimited campaign contributions would ensure that a tsunami of Outside special interest money floods the race to elect delegates, then to lobby them. The interests of Alaska’s seniors would get left in the dust.

Alaska’s economy, already frail, would be stymied, because nobody’s going to want to make investments when they don’t know what the tax and regulatory structure will be. That uncertainty would last for years, because we wouldn’t vote on constitutional changes until probably 2026.

Delegates could ask us to vote on each of dozens or scores of changes, could roll all changes into one overarching up or down vote, or could group changes—allowing them to tack unpopular measures onto popular ones to ensure that we approve the bad ones.

Besides being risky and expensive—a conservative estimate is at least $17 million—a convention is just plain unnecessary. Our amendment process works. Voters have approved 28 amendments since statehood.

During this era of political polarization, a convention would focus on hot-button culture war issues, not on the best interests of Alaska’s seniors, families and businesses. It would unnecessarily inject years of uncertainty into the government frameworks that influence every aspect of Alaskans’ lives—the last thing we need.

Please join me in voting against Ballot Measure One. 

Tom Atkinson

51-year resident

Anchorage

 
 

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