Group seeking to move legislative sessions turns in signatures

Posted: Friday, January 11, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- A group seeking to have legislative sessions held in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough instead of Juneau says it has collected enough signatures to put he measure on the November ballot.

Alaskans for Efficient Government turned in more than 40,000 signatures to the state Division of Elections for certification Thursday in Anchorage.

The group needs at least 28,783 valid signatures -- or 10 percent of the votes case in the last general election -- in order for the petition to be certified.

''It appears from my perspective there's overwhelming support to have the politicians up here,'' said Uwe Kalenka, a member of the initiative drive in Anchorage.

The measure would move the legislative session to the Mat-Su Borough by at least 2005. If suitable facilities were not available in that borough, the Legislature would temporarily move to Anchorage.

It would also void an existing law prohibiting the state from moving the Legislature unless voters approve the cost. Voters overwhelmingly approved that law in 1994.

Win Gruening, who heads the Alaska Committee, a Juneau group opposed to the initiative, said organizers trying to move the Legislature have ulterior motives.

''It's really a full capital move in disguise, and I think we need to make sure the public understands that,'' Gruening said.

Ballot initiatives aimed at moving the capital have come before voters several times. In 1976 voters picked Willow as the new state capital, but balked two years later on approving the $966 million cost of the move.

A similar vote in 1982 to spend $2.8 billion to move the capital also failed.

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