Alaska Legislature votes to establish holiday marking ratification of state constitution

Updated: May. 18, 2021 at 4:48 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Alaska may have a new state holiday.

On Monday, March 18th, the Alaska House of Representatives voted to establish “Vic Fischer and Jack Coghill Constitution of the State of Alaska Day.”

The holiday on April 24th would honor members of the Alaska Constitutional Convention and the ratification of the state constitution in 1956.

The bill passed in the State Senate on April 23rd of this year.

However, controversy arose over naming the holiday after Fischer and Coghill.

Republican Steve Thompson, Representative for District 2 said, “Yes, Jack Coghill and Vic Fischer were members, but no more instrumental than all of the delegates and staff.”

Meanwhile, Republican District 26 Representative Laddie Shaw said, “We are honoring two elderly white men, one living and one deceased, while denying honor and equity of effort in bringing the Alaska Constitution into existence by a great number of people.”

The bill passed 24 to 16.

House Majority Leader Chris Tuck spoke in support of the holiday, referring to the relationship between Coghill and Fischer as an example of bipartisanship. “Did they disagree? Yeah, they disagreed a lot. But there was a mutual respect and I think that this is what this is - how people treating one another with mutual respect and having productive dialogue... and this is what we show right here, the Alaska Constitution that is the product of people coming together, putting aside partisanship and working together,” he said.

In committee, an amendment was added to the bill that acknowledged the contributions of all delegates in the Constitutional Convention.

After passing the House, the amended bill was then sent back to the senate, where it was approved on Tuesday, May 18th It is now headed to Governor Dunleavy’s office to potentially be signed into law.

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