Originally introduced before this legislative session began, Rep. Bill Stoltze's constitutional amendment to allow voters to elect Alaska’s attorney general advanced to the House Finance Committee Thursday.
"Let the people elect the attorney general, and maybe there will be a slightly different way of going about business, representing Alaskans as the attorney general,” said Rep. Bob Herron (D-Bethel), who co-sponsored the bill.
Stoltze (R-Chugiak) was unavailable for comment Thursday.
Alaska is currently one of five states where the governor appoints the attorney general. Tennessee’s attorney general is elected by that state’s Supreme Court, and in Maine the position is elected by the legislature. In all 43 other states, voters elect their attorneys general.
Former Alaska Attorney General John Havelock, who served under former Gov. Bill Egan from 1970-1973, opposes the amendment. He says an elected AG will split the governor’s executive authority.
“That politician is going to have interests that are antagonistic to those of the governor,” Havelock said. “He will be, or she will be on the short list of those who can run against the Governor in the next election."
Stoltze’s proposal would limit the attorney general to two successive terms. That person must meet the qualifications of a Superior Court judge to run for the office, and would be subject to a recall by voters.
Havelock says the state should create an inspector general’s office that would help settle conflicts between the attorney general and governor. If passed by the Finance Committee, the amendment moves to the House floor; it would need 27 votes to pass, before moving to the Senate.