Rep. Ben Carpenter
Alaska House of Representatives, District 8

HB 131 “An Act relating to filing a recall petition.”

HB 131 balances the people’s authority to remove their elected representatives for wrongdoing through the ballot box with making it harder to use the recall process as a political weapon. HB 131 adds a common-sense time limit of 365 days to file a recall petition.

Current statute (AS 15.45) authorizes recalling the governor, lieutenant governor and members of the state legislature by public vote on tangible grounds as to (1) lack of fitness, (2) incompetence (3) negligence of duties, or (4) corruption. HB 131 keeps the people’s authority to recall their elected representatives on these grounds intact and does not change the number of signatures required to initiate the recall process.

Within the current statute there is no time limit specified for the completion of a recall petition.  Consequently, the process can be used as a political tool to influence future behavior instead of what it was designed for, to swiftly rectify past bad behavior. HB 131 promotes the core American principle that everyone has a right to a speedy trial by providing a reasonable amount of time to gather signatures on specific grievance and eliminates the open-ended nature of Alaska’s current recall process. 

HB 131 amends the statute with fifteen words by adding the requirement that a petition “must be filed within 365 days after the date the director certified the petition and…” HB 131 avoids excessive restriction of the recall process by allowing petitioners what amounts to one-quarter or one-half of the term in office, depending on the branch, to file a recall petition.

HB 131 complements existing common-sense language designed to promote good governance. Current language limits filing of a petition within 180 days of the termination of the term of office and establishes a high bar for petition sponsors to obtain support from no fewer than 25 percent of qualified voters before filing a petition. By requiring petition sponsors to collect the appropriate signatures and complete the recall petition within one year, HB 131 strikes a balance that promotes good governance.

HB 131 keeps intact the people’s power to remove their representative for cause and promotes our American constitutional principle of swift justice.

HB 131 can be found here.