By Dave Donaldson
Plans for a renewed Coastal Management program are before the Parnell Administration – the first stop on a path that could end up on next fall’s ballot. The legislature this year refused a bill preventing the closure of a what was seen as a greatly weakened program designed to coordinate federal and state governmental agencies in coastal development projects.
However, Coastal Management supporters are now hoping to get more than 25-thousand signatures on their ballot initiative before the start of next year’s legislative session that begins January 17th. The legislature would then have the option of doing nothing – allowing the question to go before voters – or passing a similar bill of its own. The Lieutenant Governor has sixty days – during which time the Department of Law must determine whether the initiative meets constitutional requirements, At that time, supporters may begin gathering petition signatures.
Those who have seen the proposed initiative say it would reinstate the program within the Department of Commerce and would give the agency all the powers it had prior to 2003, when Governor Frank Murkowski made administrative changes to its authority.
As a spur for the initiative, the Department of Environmental Conservation Friday gave public notice of amendments and repeals of regulations dealing with the now-closed coastal management program.