Constitutional delegate Vic Fischer opposes Dunleavy’s amendment proposals

Vic Fisher, the sole surviving member of the 1955 Alaska constitutional convention, testifies in a House State Affairs Committee hearing, May 7, 2019. Fischer opposes three constitutional amendment proposals by Gov. Mike Dunleavy. Fischer’s 95th birthday was two days earlier. (Photo by Andrew Kitchenman/KTOO and Alaska Public Media)

Vic Fischer, the sole surviving member of the Alaska constitutional convention, told lawmakers he opposes three amendments to the Alaska Constitution that Gov. Mike Dunleavy proposed.

Fischer spoke to the House State Affairs Committee Tuesday, two days after his 95th birthday. He contrasted the constitution’s language with the proposed amendments.

“It is concise. Short, declarative statements of policy, of process, of organization. The amendments are atrociously written,” he said.

One amendment, HJR 6, would require a public vote on any changes to permanent fund dividends. Another, HJR 7, would limit spending. And the third, HJR 5, would require a public vote for any new or increased taxes.

Fischer quoted the constitution’s provision on taxes, and contrasted it with the tax amendment.

“’The power of taxation shall never be surrendered.’ Period. That is a solid policy statement,” Fischer said. “And then this proposed amendment goes on to undermine this policy.”

Fischer said the proposed limit on spending would have left the state incapable of dealing with the construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System. He said the amendments would enshrine today’s preferences when they may not be appropriate seven years from now, let alone 70.

Fischer also said lawmakers should draft amendments, not the governor’s office.

Fischer said he’ll continue to help the Legislature if asked.

“I’m still alive, and if I can be of any help, I will be happy,” he said.

Amendments must be passed by a two-thirds majority of both the House and the Senate before going to a vote of the people. Neither chamber has passed any of the amendments.