Every 10 years (at least) Alaskans are asked to vote on whether a constitutional convention should be called. Each time throughout history voters have overwhelmingly voted this convention down. Unlike an amendment, a constitutional convention would leave our entire constitution up for amendment simultaneously, creating massive vulnerabilities to the precedents of our governance that have been in place since the beginning of Alaska’s statehood. A convention such as this would most certainly attract well-funded organizations from outside Alaska, with radical special interest groups paying for outcomes serving their outside agendas, rather than the best future for Alaskans. With the current discussions ongoing in pursuit of a constitutional convention, some of our most treasured institutions are at risk of drastic transformation and funding elimination. Personal use hunting and fishing, public schools, the ferry system, and Alaska’s constitutional right to privacy are just a few examples of what could potentially be taken from Alaskans, drastically impacting our cherished way of life here in the greatest state.
As a small business owner, I am also concerned what passage of a constitutional convention could mean for business certainty over the next several years. A newly created constitution would be subject to years of litigation. Alaska is fortunate to have a history of settled case law associated with its current constitution but changing the constitution would open settled law to reinterpretation and re-litigation, making it difficult to make business decisions in an uncertain regulatory environment. Our current operating environment is uncertain enough after a global pandemic, record inflation, and an imminent recession, and while there is never a good time to initiate insecurity in the business environment – this is unquestionably the worst time to do so.
As resourceful and forward-thinking Alaskans, we can easily avoid this sledgehammer approach that threatens our local businesses and the way of life we have fostered here for generations. If we want to make micro changes to our constitution, we can use the surgical, analytical, single-issue amendment method, which has been used many times in our state history. I ask my fellow small business owners, parents hoping to raise their children here, neighbors seeking to preserve the Alaska they know and love, and all those with an interest in the future of Alaska to join me in voting no in November.
• Laura McDonnell is a lifelong Juneau resident and owner of Caribou Crossings, which has been locally owned operated for 25 years. Columns, My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire. Have something to say? Here’s how to submit a My Turn or letter.