Creating Alaska

Dora M. Sweeney

Name: Dora M. Sweeney

City: Juneau

District: 6

Occupation: Housewife, Secretary

Born: June 19, 1907 - Biwabie, Minnesota

Death: ?

Alaska Resident: 1907 - 1974 Convention Posts:

  • Member, Committee on Administration
  • Member, Committee on Legislative Branc

Education: Hall School of Commerce

Public Offices and Organizations:

  • Territorial House of Representatives - 1955-59
  • State House of Representatives - 1959-65

Honors Received:

  • Meritorious Service Medal, University of Alaska Southeast - 1993

Quote from the Constitutional Convention:

" The legislature is going to be composed of 20 members in the senate, 40 in the house. Senators must be at least 25 years of age, representatives, 21. They are required to be in Alaska at least three years and in the legislative district from which they file at least one year immediately preceding their filing. They shall be elected at a time to be specified and their term of office will begin on the fourth Monday of January. Representatives will serve for two years, senators for four years, half of them elected every two years. Vacancies will be filled in a manner to be prescribed or else by the governor. There is a provision which provides that no legislator or other elective or appointive officer can hold any other office or file for reelection except to some other office. There is also an immunity clause which provides a legislator will not be held liable for anything that he says during the session. He is also free from arrest on his way to and from the Convention.

We have a salary provision which will say the salary of the legislature will be one-third of the salary of the governor, and the salary of the governor is to be set by the legislature. And also, there is a provision that the legislators may receive per diem so that is a matter that is left to the legislators. From this you will see that the legislators will be paid annually which means they can serve for maybe 60 days and come back and serve another session, but they will receive an annual salary, and there will not be additional pay for those extra sessions. Special sessions can be called either through a poll conducted by the Legislative Council or by the governor and there is also a provision stating that nothing can be brought up at the special session except those things listed by the governor or requested of him to introduce...

And also a new provision that the legislature shall direct by law in what manner and what court suits might be brought against state or agencies thereof. We have an impeachment provision which is a little different than that found in other constitutions in that in this article it is proposed that the impeachment will be brought by the senate and heard in the house. And there will also be a justice of the supreme court presiding and two-thirds of the members of the house will be required to carry out the impeachment. Then all civil officers except the governor may be removed for causes other than those which fall in the impeachment bracket. We have a veto by the governor. This is a little different also. The bill is returned by the governor if vetoed to the house. Then the legislature sits as a body, as one body, and then it requires two-thirds of the total number of the legislators to override. There is a provision there dealing with the veto of general appropriation bills which would require three-fourths of the total number.

Also, the governor is given 15 days while the legislature is in session, 15 days time to either sign or veto the bill. If the legislature is not in session he has 20 days in which to either sign or veto the bill. Otherwise it will be law. There is a procedure for the enactment of bills which is not too difficult to understand and also the provision regarding time of taking effect. The time will run from the time the session ends, 90 days after the adjournment of the session rather than 90 days after the time the bill has been approved, which is the case at the present time. There is a section on local and special acts which are prohibited, and also a new section on the remission of taxes. This is prohibited. "No obligation or liability of any person, association, or corporation held or owned by the state or any municipal corporation therein, shall ever be exchanged, transferred, remitted, released or postponed or in any way diminished by the legislature, nor shall such liability or obligation be extinguished except by the payment thereof into the proper treasury.". That is the main clause and we felt that should be in there. There is also a new section on referendum which states that any bill that fails of passage in the legislature can be put to the people through a referendum by the governor either in its original form or with some of the amendments that had been considered. Bills may also be put to referendum by the legislature by meeting certain requirements, so if they want they can do that. Then, we have a freedom of religion section, and the native land section is practically lifted from the Enabling Act. And the taxes on nonresidents I believe was also lifted from the Enabling Act, one that is required to be in there. And then we set up a board of apportionment which I think you will find not too hard to understand but which we felt should be in there. On the whole I think it is a fine bill and easy to understand."

-Delegate Dora Sweeney, Day 42 of the Constitutional Convention, explaining the role and function of the legislative branch of government set out in the Alaska State Constitution.