Alaskans, I respectfully implore you to recognize that the flood of paid advertisements you’ve been hearing about a state constitutional convention may not be the whole story – and dare I say it is “spinning” the story to protect the power and wealth of some who believe they would benefit more from your “no” vote.

Alaska State Sen. Shelley Hughes

We are at a crossroads. We all have an important decision to make, and these are the questions we need to answer. Consider each.

Are we going to realize before we vote that more than 230 state constitutional conventions have been held in our nation successfully, peacefully, without upending state government and industry, without disrupting state economies, and without constitutions being thrown out and rewritten, without extreme amendments passing voters?

Are we going to believe that the gridlocked legislature will fix our problems? Do we really believe enough legislators will want to restrict their own power and vote to support putting fiscal plan amendments before the voters, amendments to settle the PFD and institute a reasonable spending cap, when they’ve refused to do so the past seven legislative sessions?

Are we aware that the legislature has reached simple majority support for these fiscal plan items but has failed to reach the required 2/3 vote threshold? Constitutional Convention delegates – who don’t have the same conflict of interest and won’t hesitate to restrict the Legislature’s power – only need to reach a simple majority vote to put these items on the ballot before the voters?

Do we understand how the gridlock in Juneau over the PFD has hurt us all? Have we come to grips with the fact that multiple cohorts of children in our schools lost out on the “Read by 9” policy to help them be successful because of the gridlock? A we aware that rapists have run rampant because the high rates of sexual assault weren’t a top legislative priority because of the gridlock? Do we realize that bills to reduce the cost of healthcare have died in legislative committees because of gridlock?

Are we aware that every single year (for multiple decades) our state fiscal house has not been in order, and that we’ve lost out on more than half a billion in private capital investment that would have strengthened our economy and created jobs? Do we understand that putting our fiscal house in order will help all of us – even those who are now a “no” and are frightened their wealth could be jeopardized if we hold a convention? A rising tide lifts all boats.

Have we considered that even a $17 million price tag for a convention is a bargain?

Do we realize that voters elect the convention delegates by district, and therefore the delegates will reflect the values of Alaskans statewide?

Are we aware that delegates would only propose amendments and that voters would have the final say on whether to accept or reject amendments?

Have we considered that the Legislature has had the entire constitution on the table for 63 years to change and a state constitutional convention would be for a mere 75 days?

Are we cognizant of the fact that even in polarized, emotional, divisive times, state conventions have been conducted civilly without extremist results? Did you know 19 state conventions were held during an 18-year period (1968-1986) that cooled the political climate in those states? This occurred in a time period that included Vietnam war protests, the Civil Rights movement, the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., the hippie free love movement, the Women’s Liberation movement, two oil crises (that involved cars lining up at gas stations due to the shortage), the Iran hostage crisis. Need I go on?

Alaskans, we are at a crossroads. Use logic and reason. Consider history. Recognize the safeguards.

Are we aware that in the more than 230 state conventions Pandora’s box was not opened – not a single worm escaped the can? Only sane and reasonable amendments were adopted.

Have we considered that even a $17 million price tag for a convention is a bargain? Every time a regular legislative session is extended 30-days, or a 30-day special session is held, it is $ 1 million expense. Did you know that the regular session has been extended in six of the last seven years, and that 15 special sessions have been called in the last seven years? Have we thought about the fact that the state spends $30 million per day – every day – for operations, and that $17 million for a convention for 75 days and 90-days of pre-and post work is only a tiny fraction of the annual budget?

Are we going to succumb to fear mongering and dark, outside millions from ultra-liberal organizations telling us not to hold a state constitutional convention?

Are we going to believe the ridiculous lies that we could lose our gun rights, our hunting rights, our access to public lands?

Have we noticed the fact that the opposition’s recent mailer included another lie – that the Alaska Independence Party (of which I am not a member) wanted to secede from the Union? Utter poppycock.

Do we really want to leave the fiscal and cultural hot button issues to the gridlocked legislature and to the courts? Or should the people weigh in and debate and decide whether or not changes are to be made?

Have we processed the fact that the yes side only has donations from regular, individual Alaskans, not the millions from outside wealthy donors attempting to protect the power of elites? Did you know the “no” side is outspending the “yes” side by 100 to 1? This is a David vs Goliath battle.

Alaskans, we are at a crossroads. Use logic and reason. Consider history. Recognize the safeguards. Understand that the framers put the state convention option in our constitution for a reason. The reason is now. Don’t be fear mongered. Don’t bend to outside groups. Stand for Alaska. Be “yes” for a better, stronger, more vibrant, economically-sound Alaska in the near future and for our children and grandchildren. Much is at stake. Root for David not Goliath; vote yes.

The views expressed here are those of the author.

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Sen. Hughes: Alaska’s Constitutional Convention Question is truly David vs. Goliath

Shelley Hughes
Shelley Hughes serves as an Alaska state senator from Palmer.


  • Mark N. Wayson says:

    Judges and lawyers run Alaska’s so-called legal system, primarily to enrich the 4,000 plus ABA lawyer’s Union members. Judges in Alaska, North Korea, Iran, and China all claim that they act under the Rule Of Law. None of them do so. With or without a convention, Alaskans have to take back our corrupted hi-jacked courts. As Abraham Lincoln wrote, “We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.”

  • BeerIsGood says:

    Thank you for providing an easy to understand list of suggested changes to our State Constitution.

  • david Boyle says:

    Thanks for the great explanation, Senator Hughes. The results of this ballot issue will tell much about the future of Alaska. Will Alaska be a state owned by the crony capitalists who benefit at the state’s trough filled with money? Will Alaska be a state owned by the government unions? Will Alaska be a state where the number of nonprofits live off the state’s piggy bank? Will Alaska be controlled by the Alaska Bar Association? Will Alaska forever be in the bottom for K12 education controlled by the Education Industry (NEA)? Or will Alaskans finally realize that the day has come for everyday Alaskans to take control of its future? Vote YES on the constitutional convention.

  • Theresa says:

    Why did you take down the video?

  • T. Humphrey says:

    I am apolitical, and am not making this comment to support or disavow any political group or person…but rather, to share what I have been hearing from various diverse groups, often in minority communities, but also in non minority groups.
    Though these groups I’ve been engaged with, have vast and varied opinions on many things, they all seem to find consensus on the following four outcomes they would like to see a constitutional convention produce:
    1. Feed the people first. Because Alaska is considered by USA, to be the most food insecure state in our nation, and because Alaska’s natural resources have belonged to the collective residence of Alaska, and not to the government, they would like to see that collective ownership continue, but with an addition that states that the harvest of our fish and game resources will always be managed with the highest priority being given to personal consumption. Feed the people first means that any full time resident any where in the state, that consumes what they harvest is given priority over all other harvest interests. This means that subsistence, and sport categories will no longer exist for Alaskans. if you are going to eat it, it will fall under Personal Consumption, and the rules will give this uniting category first priority. Salmon is an easy example. if each Alaskan is allowed X number of fish per year for personal consumption, it will not matter how you catch them…rod and real, snagging, netting, fish wheel, in the mouth or in the tail…each fish goes to your personal quota, and when that quota has been reached, you can move aside and let the next person step up.
    Second priority will be given to jobs based on our fish and game. All such revenue opportunities will be offered to full time residence first. Alaskans will be given first priority on any commercial endeavors that use our fish and game resources…i.e. commercial fishing, value added processing, guiding, etc. If we can’t get enough Alaskans and Alaskan owned companies to fill these niches, we need to reconsider the barriers to entry that are currently in place. we should never see fishing fleets from the Lower 48 or overseas, tapping our resources before we do.
    2. get our federally held lands back. The feds own way too much of Alaska, and as a consequence, have way to much say in how Alaska develops. Their hold on our lands was supposed to be temporary, not permanent. People want our constitution to mandate a continued and consistent effort to get this land back, and that this effort continues regardless of what administration is in office at any given time.
    3. Alaska needs to stop allowing a neocolonial economy to dominate this state. we need to stop our model of natural resource extractions being sold off to the rest of the world in their base forms, and then buying it back in its value added form, at extensively higher prices. This includes energy, minerals, timber, seafood, and others. Our constitution needs to mandate that all extracted natural resources undergo value added transformations in state, before shipping out of state.
    4. The State of Alaska must mandate and enforce, that a minimum of 5% of our Permanent Fund be invested in State, in Alaskan owned endeavors, and/or into infrastructure that allows Alaskan owned endeavors to compete with outside companies.
    If we can make these few things happen, this State will blossom into its true potential…we will make great strides towards food security, will create many jobs in all natural resource categories, will have access to many more resources that are currently on lands that are tied up by disinterested federal owners, and with prioritizing cheep energy for Alaskans will produce all kinds of micro economies…some big and some small…everything from making our own steel products that can compete in a global market, to innovative frozen, ready to eat, gourmand seafood meals, that are highly sought after in global markets, and much more that I cannot think of at the moment.
    thank you for letting me share here…and hoping for the best for all Alaskans.