Government of Alaska


Government of Alaska

The government of Alaska is divided into various departments. Alaska has 246 federally recognized tribal governments and one federal Indian (Native American) reservation. [University of Alaska Justice Center [http://justice.uaa.alaska.edu/rlinks/government/ak_local.html local & borough government] ]

Alaska Natives

Alaska Natives, while organized in and around their communities, are often active within the Native corporations which have been given ownership over large tracts of land, and thus need to deliberate resource conservation and development issues.

Politics

Alaska is often characterized as a Republican-leaning state with strong Libertarian tendencies. [National Journal Alaska State Profile [http://election.nationaljournal.com/states/ak.htm] ] Local political communities often work on issues related to land use development, fishing, tourism, and individual rights as many residents are proud of their rough Alaskan heritage.

The Alaska Legislature is a 20-member Senate serving 4-year terms and 40-member House serving 2-year terms. It has been dominated by conservatives, generally Republicans. Likewise, recent state governors have been mostly conservatives, although not always elected under the official 'Party' banner. Republican Wally Hickel was elected to the office for a second term in 1990 after jumping the Republican ship and briefly joining the Alaskan Independence Party ticket just long enough to be reelected. He subsequently officially 'rejoined' the Republican fold in 1994.

Alaska's members of the United States Congress are all Republican. Senator Ted Stevens was appointed to the position following the death of Senator Bob Bartlett in December 1968, [Stevens' official biography [http://stevens.senate.gov/about.cfm] ] and has never lost a re-election campaign since. As the longest-serving Republican in the Senate (sometimes nicknamed "Senator-For-Life" [ "An Ethics Quagmire" - Washington Spectator [http://www.washingtonspectator.com/articles/20060101senate_1.cfm] ] ), Stevens has been a crucial force in gaining Federal money for his state.

Until his resignation from the U.S. Senate after being elected governor, Republican Frank Murkowski held the state's other senatorial position and, as governor, was allowed to appoint his daughter, Lisa Murkowski as his successor. She won a full six-year term on her own in 2004.

Alaska's sole U.S. Representative, Don Young, was re-elected to his 17th straight term, also in 2004. His seniority in House makes him one of the most influential Republican House members. His position on the House Transportation Committee allowed him to parlay some $450 million to the Gravina Island Bridge and the Knik Arm Bridge, both derided as "bridges to nowhere".

Recent and ongoing U.S. Justice Department probes continue into Alaskan politics. Senator Ted Stevens, who has served since 1968, has been caught up in a larger probe that included FBI raids last summer (2007) at offices of six Alaska legislators — including Stevens' son, Ben, who was then the president of the state Senate, and a raid on Senator Ted Stevens' personal home. [http://www.adn.com/news/politics/fbi/story/9179115p-9095789c.html | Federal agents raid Sen. Ted Stevens' Girdwood home] Senator Ted Stevens, now over 83-year-old and an Alaskan Republican, has drawn the FBI and Justice Department attention over his home renovation project done in 2000, which more than doubled the size of his home. Bill Allen, founder of VECO Corporation, an oil supplying and engineering company, oversaw the work at Senator Steven's home. Bill Allen has since pleaded guilty to bribing Alaska state legislators. Alaska lawmakers went as far as embroidering ball caps with the letters CBC, for "Corrupt Bastards Club." The Washington Post describes more into the political scandals with its' article entitled "I'll sell my soul to the Devil" from a tape quote from Pete Kott, former Republican speaker of the Alaskan legislature. [ [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/story/2007/11/12/ST2007111200534.html 'I'll Sell My Soul to the Devil' - washingtonpost.com ] ]

List of political parties

* [http://www.alaskarepublicans.com/ Alaska Republican Party]
* [http://www.alaskademocrats.org/ Alaska Democratic Party]
* [http://www.republicanmoderates.com/ Alaska Republican Moderate Party]
* [http://www.akip.org/ Alaskan Independence Party]
* [http://www.lpalaska.org/ Alaska Libertarian Party]
* [http://www.alaska.greens.org/ Alaska Green Party]

Alaska is also the only state in the union to allow legal possession of marijuana within one's home. An adult may legally possess less than four ounces of marijuana in their home. This court ruling (2003) came about because of Alaska's constitution prohibiting one's invasion of their privacy. The Alaska appeals court declared this so despite a 1990 voter initiative that criminalized possession of all amounts of the drug. The court ruled that voters, who approved the criminalization measure, did not have authority to change the state constitution protecting one's privacy. ["Noy v. Alaska", 83 P.3d 538, 543 (2003).] Alaska today continues to be one of the few states in the nation which protects one's privacy under their state constitution. Although Alaska is a progressive (liberal) state with releasing state government information to the public, it is also a restrictive (conservative) state when issues involve one's "privacy" rights guaranteed by its' state constitution. An example is with the U.S. Patriot Act, which in part forces governmental entities to release book titles circulated to patrons; however, cities like Anchorage, Alaska have frequently challenged or denied release of such information sought under the Patriot Act claiming it would violate their own state constitution. The city of Anchorage passed resolution No. 2003-223 in 2003, which bars the use of municipal resources in enforcing the USA Patriot Act in releasing library records. [http://www.muni.org/iceimages/Assembly2/AR2003-223.pdf | A RESOLUTION OF THE ANCHORAGE MUNICIPAL ASSEMBLY RELATING TO THE USA PATRIOT ACT, THE BILL OF RIGHTS, THE CONSTITUTION OF THE STATE OF ALASKA, AND THE CIVIL LIBERTIES, PEACE, AND SECURITY OF THE CITIZENS OF OUR COUNTRY ]

Alaska possesses a pervasively strong independence movement favoring secession from the US, with the Alaska Independence Party labeled one of the "the most significant state-level third parties operating in the 20th century". [Doughtery, J. (2001, February 25). Alaska party stumps for independence. World Net Daily. Retrieved from http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=21840]

Presidential elections

In presidential elections, the state's Electoral College votes have been most often won by a Republican nominee. Only once has Alaska supported a Democratic nominee, when it supported Lyndon B. Johnson in the landslide year of 1964, although the 1960 and 1968 elections were close. No state has voted for a Democratic presidential candidate fewer times. President George W. Bush won the state's electoral votes in 2004 by a margin of 25 percentage points with 61.1% of the vote.

The communities of Juneau, Sitka, downtown and midtown Anchorage, and "the Bush," stand out as Democratic strongholds, while the Kenai Peninsula, Matanuska-Susitna Valley, parts of Anchorage, and Fairbanks, Ketchikan, Wrangell, and Petersburg serve as the GOP electoral base.

On August 29, 2008 Republican Presidential nominee, John McCain named Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin as the GOP Vice-Presidential nominee.

History

When the United States Congress, in 1957 and 1958, debated the wisdom of admitting it as the 49th state, much of the political debate centered on whether Alaska would become a Democratic or Republican-leaning state. Conventional wisdom had it that, with its penchant for new ideas and dependence on the Federal Government largess for basic needs, it would become a Democratic stronghold, about which Republicans, and the Republican Administration of Dwight Eisenhower had reservations. Given time, those fears proved unfounded. After an early flirtatious period with liberal politics, the political climate of Alaska changed quickly once petroleum was discovered and the federal government came to be seen as 'meddling' in local affairs. Still, despite its libertarian leanings, the state regularly takes in more federal money than it gives out, a fact that can be attributed at least partially to its equal representation in the United States Senate.

Divisions

Alaska is divided into 16 boroughs (including unified municipalities), [University of Alaska Justice Center [http://justice.uaa.alaska.edu/rlinks/government/ak_local.html local & borough government] ] as opposed to "counties." The function is the same, but whereas some states use a three-tiered system of decentralization — state/county/township — most of Alaska only uses two tiers — state/borough. Owing to the state's low population density, most of the land is located in the Unorganized Borough which, as the name implies, has no intermediate borough government of its own, but is administered directly by the state government. Currently (2000 census) 57.71 percent of Alaska's land area has this status; however, its population comprises only 13.05 percent of the state's total. For statistical purposes the United States Census Bureau divides this territory into census areas. Anchorage merged the city government with the Greater Anchorage Area Borough in 1971 to form the Municipality of Anchorage, containing the city proper, and the bedroom communities of Eagle River, Chugiak, Peters Creek, Girdwood, Bird, and Indian. Fairbanks, on the other hand, has a separate borough (the Fairbanks North Star Borough) and municipality (the City of Fairbanks).

References

ee also

*Governor of Alaska
*Alaska State Legislature
*Alaska Court System

External links

* [http://www.state.ak.us/ State of Alaska]


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