Salmon ballot initiative rejected

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott’s office today denied a petition for a ballot initiative that would have governed development in anadromous salmon streams, saying the proposal would illegally override lawmakers' powers.

The proposed ballot initiative, called “Stand for Salmon” by its proponents, would have called for voters to change the Fish and Game code regarding development in salmon habitat.

In an attached opinion from the State Department of Law, the state found that the initiative, if passed, would bypass the Legislature’s authority to allocate state resources – in this case, the water in anadromous salmon streams – among competing issues.

While the state says the initiative met three of four requirements to be accepted for the ballot, it was the fourth requirement that “the bill not include prohibited subjects.” Making or repealing appropriations is one of the prohibited subjects.

The Department of Law opinion says, in part, “We remain concerned that (the proposal) would, theoretically and/or in practice, categorically prohibit certain mines, dams, roadways, gaslines, and/or pipelines. In doing so, the measure would effectively set state waters aside for the specific purpose of protecting anadromous fish and wildlife habitat ‘in such a manner that is executable, mandatory, and reasonably definite with no further legislative action,’ while leaving insufficient discretion to the legislature or its delegated executives to use that resource in another way.”

The Stand for Salmon group behind the initiative said in a statement Tuesday that it is “deeply disappointed that Governor Walker’s administration has chosen to play politics and cater to the short-term interests of outside, multinational mining companies instead of Alaskans and the salmon we depend on.”

The group says it will evaluate its options moving forward. The group has 30 days to bring action in court if it chooses to do so.

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