Current Issue

  • Volume 34,
  • Number 2 -
  • December 2017

Note from the Editor


Alaska’s Judicial Retention Elections: A Comparative Analysis
Albert J. Klumpp

The results of recent judicial retention elections in Alaska, and the recent increase in political activities related to judicial selection in Alaska and many other states, have given rise to concerns about the fates of future Alaska retention candidates. This Article analyzes the results of retention elections nationwide and suggests that there may be good reason for Alaska judges to be worried. Baseline levels of voter support for retention candidates in most of Alaska are among the lowest in the country, and have gradually been declining over time. In addition, Alaskan voters have targeted individual judges for removal more frequently than voters in most other states. This Article’s analysis indicates that ensuring the retention of competent Alaska judges in the future requires more than simply improving the effectiveness of pro-retention campaigns for individual candidates, and that understanding and addressing deeply held voter attitudes must be part of a more comprehensive effort.

Placing Children with Relatives: The Case for a Clear Rationale for Separate Foster Care Licensing Standards, Background Check Procedures, and Improved Relative Placement Statutes in Alaska
Courtney Lewis

Policymakers generally agree that if a child cannot live safely with her parents, then the child should be placed expeditiously with a relative. Alaska’s current system for evaluating relative caregivers is overly complicated, creating unnecessary barriers for relatives and increasing the risk of mistakenly denying placement with relatives. This Article argues that Alaska should adopt a three-step approach to achieve better outcomes based on the American Bar Association’s model licensing standards, which are narrowly tailored to evaluate whether a child should be placed with a relative. Additionally, this Article argues that Alaska should repeal its state statute that gives the child welfare agency the ability to establish prima facie evidence to deny a relative if a relative would not be eligible for a foster care license, for two reasons. First, a review of the history of the state’s statutes indicates that the legislature did not intend to provide the Department of Health and Human Services with the current definition of prima facie evidence. Second, Alaska’s current statute is not compliant with the 2016 federal regulations regarding the Indian Child Welfare Act. Lastly, this Article argues that Alaska should adopt a statute clearly delineating the court’s authority to order placement of a child facing foster care with a relative to expedite compliance with relative placement in frontline child welfare practice. Adopting these proposals would reduce barriers and the number of mistakes in frontline child welfare practice, which would increase both the timeliness and the number of children placed with relatives.

The Grand Compromise: The ANCSA Section 7(i) Settlement Agreement
Ethan G. Schutt & Aaron M. Schutt

In 1982, Alaska’s twelve regional Native corporations finalized and executed a settlement agreement ending a decade of litigation involving Section 7(i) of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. The 121-page Settlement Agreement is complex and covers a number of issues. The Agreement annually governs the distribution of tens of millions in revenue shared between the regional corporations pursuant to Section 7(i). This Article reviews the history of the Settlement Agreement, with emphasis on the negotiations that led to it, as well as the legal challenges regarding the Agreement since its execution. This Article also reviews the Agreement, section-by-section, and provides insight from court cases, arbitration decisions, and other analysis of sections in the Agreement. Finally, this Article recommends that the twelve regions consider amending the Agreement to modernize it and address issues that have arisen since 1982 that were not anticipated by the drafters of the Agreement. This Article is a follow-on to ANCSA Section 7(I): $40 Million Per Word and Counting, which reviewed the history of Section 7(i).


Justice Reinvestment in Alaska: The Past, Present, and Future of SB 91
Michael A. Rosengart

In the summer of 2016, Alaska Governor Bill Walker signed SB 91, a landmark criminal justice reform law that implements a “justice reinvestment” program. SB 91 aims to reduce Alaska’s prison population, cut corrections costs, and then reinvest savings back into the state to improve public safety and reduce recidivism. It is 193 sections long and is likely the most substantial change to Alaskan criminal law since statehood. It also comes at a time when similar legislation, spearheaded by the Justice Reinvestment Initiative, is proliferating through the country. This Note overviews Alaska’s corrections problems that prompted SB 91, discusses the law’s legislative history, highlights some of the most important changes the law makes, and introduces some of the issues that it may present going forward.

Intrastate Crowdfunding in Alaska: Is There Security in Following the Crowd?
Evan Glustrom

This Note analyzes the potential of crowdfunding for the State of Alaska. Crowdfunding can open up new sources of revenue for small businesses while simultaneously providing an avenue for Alaskans to invest in their own communities. The potential, however, must be weighed against the risk of fraud, poorly run businesses, and the lack of protection for investors. It is the responsibility of the Alaska legislature, the State’s securities administrators, and the Securities and Exchange Commission to ensure that investors are adequately protected. This Note discusses Alaska’s crowdfunding legislation, the Alaska Intrastate Crowdfunding Exemption, and recommends changes to the legislation that account for the risks involved in crowdfunding while still capturing its potential.

Oil Production Tax in Alaska: An Evolution Away from a “True” Production Tax
Andrew C. MacMillan

Alaska has long relied on taxing petroleum extraction as a key source of funding for the State. The oil production tax has changed dramatically since the first barrels of oil were taken from Alaskan land. Most noticeably, the production tax has adjusted its progressivity element and has moved from a gross tax to a net tax. This Note provides a historical reference to Alaska’s oil production taxation scheme in an effort to address whether it is a “true” production tax. Asserting that Alaska has departed from a “true” production tax scheme insofar as it more resembles an income tax, this Note assesses whether the State should return to a “true” production tax.