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Opinion: Just say no to a constitutional convention

When the constitution is opened, everything is on the table.

  • By Max Mertz
  • Tuesday, June 7, 2022 10:10am
  • Opinion

By Max Mertz

The Alaska Constitution calls for a ballot proposition every 10 years to call a constitutional convention. Since statehood, voters have rejected the idea, and we should do so again this November when it is on the ballot.

If the question for a constitutional convention is approved, it would be followed by another vote to elect delegates to a constitutional convention. Then, assuming this group of delegates can agree on anything, we would have follow-up votes on changes to our constitution.

When the constitution is opened, everything is on the table. Name any hot button issue in today’s special interest and social media-driven divisiveness and you could see it as a possible addition to, or retraction from our current constitution and rights.

And who will the constitutional delegates be? Do you think it’s likely it would be different from the current legislators or others deeply involved in government? That’s probably not likely. You can count on the fact that there would be a lot of money and self-serving groups working hard to get the so-called “correct” people to make the “right decisions” for everything from abortion rights, to the dividend, to campaign finance, school funding and who knows what else.

Success of any convention would seem to be predicated on the collective mindset of not only the delegates, but the general populous. The current rancor and absence of unity could have disastrous effects for our democracy and state. Now is not the time to test that.

Our existing method to amend the constitution through legislative referral or initiative are already in place and should continue to be the method used going forward. Amendments through the established means focuses any changes on narrow parts of the constitution rather putting everything on the table as a convention would.

Speak up against a constitutional convention, and vote no in November.

• Max Mertz has been a CPA in Alaska for over 25 years. During his career, he has served clients in a variety of industries including fisheries, airline, government and nonprofits. He currently serves on the Greater Juneau Chamber of Commerce board of directors, Alaska Committee and recently co-chaired the Juneau Economic Stabilization Task Force. 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.

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