The state ballot Tuesday features four significant proposed changes in Alaska law, a convergence that elevates the interest in and importance of the primary election. The ballot measures are the culmination of a vast amount of work from enthusiastic and engaged Alaskans, many of them volunteers. Unfortunately, we must reiterate our recommendation for a "no" vote on all four measures.
Ballot Measure 1 would create a new state entity, the Alaska Gaming Commission, to regulate the large and diverse gambling industry in Alaska. The commission would also have the power to expand the types of gambling in Alaska, a decision that should rest with the Legislature. Supporters of the measure say they need the commission because the Legislature won't act. That's a judgment in itself, and one best left with the Legislature.
Ballot Measure 2 would stop the state's licensing of private pilots to shoot predators while using aircraft and prohibit any airborne predator control unless an irreversible decline in a moose or caribou herd is imminent.
The measure would make it much more expensive and legally tenuous, if not impossible, for the state to moderate fluctuations in predator and prey populations using aerial control. If done efficiently and effectively, such actions are occasionally worthwhile to provide a steadier supply of high-quality, local food for Alaskans. Reduced wolf populations will recover as the moose and caribou do.
This is a control effort, and so complaints that it is is "unfair" to the wolves shouldn't enter the equation - fairness faded after gunpowder arrived. If it's to be done, it should be done efficiently
Ballot Measure 3 would offer public funding to candidates for state office. This measure seems like expensive overkill with its own potential for abuses.
Finally, Ballot Measure 4 would inappropriately exploit fear of large mine disasters to impose, potentially, impossible limits on the day-to-day operation of large mines in Alaska. The state's water quality regulations are already extremely cautious. The measure may or may not make them more strict - it depends on how courts and agencies interpret its sometimes conflicting language. We shouldn't inflict that uncertainty on the industry.