Friday, October 16, 2015

What's the difference between a proclamation, a resolution, and an act?

On Monday, Governor Walker issued a proclamation recognizing October 12, 2015 as Indigenous Peoples Day. There was much fanfare in the press about Alaska being the first state to reclaim Columbus Day for Native people. And then Anne Hillman of Alaska Public Media pointed this out:
So what is a proclamation? The governor can issue proclamations to recognize days, weeks, or months for a single year, often at the request of his constituents (http://gov.alaska.gov/Walker/contact/constituent-relations/proclamations.html). Governor Walker has issued nearly 100 of these, including Bear Awareness Month (March 2015), Auctioneers Day (April 18, 2015), and Archives Month (October 2015). You can see them all at http://gov.alaska.gov/Walker/press-room/proclamation-archive.html. Some of the proclamations are required by Alaska statute, like Alaska Territorial Guard Day (October 18) or Dutch Harbor Remembrance Day (June 3). Proclamations can also be used to call special legislative sessions, like Governor Walker did on April 27.
The executive proclamation declaring that October 2015 is Archives Month.

Similarly, the Alaska state legislature can create awareness days, weeks, or months for the current or upcoming year through concurrent resolutions, which "reflect the will, wish, view or decision of both houses speaking concurrently," according to the Uniform Rules. In 2015, the legislature passed resolutions like Sexual Assault Awareness Month (April 2015), Alaska School Choice Week (January 24-30, 2016), and Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia Action Day (April 19, 2015). Concurrent resolutions are easier to pass than bills. They don't require three readings, committee referrals, or the governor's signature; they only need to pass with a majority in each house.
Resolutions like these are the legislature's way of recognizing a special day, week, or month for a single year.

In order to make one of these special designations stick, the legislature has to pass a bill that becomes part of the Alaska Statutes. These bills are subject to legislative procedures outlined in the Alaska Constitution, which is a more rigorous process than passing a concurrent resolution. In 2015, the legislature passed four of these acts: Alaska Law Enforcement Officers' Day (January 9), Great Alaska Good Friday Earthquake Remembrance Day (March 27), Alaska Firefighters' Day (the Sunday before October 9), and Children's Day (second Sunday in June). These will get added to the previously created special days in the Alaska Statutes, Title 44, Section 12.
New observances get added to the Alaska Statutes once they pass the legislature and are recognized forever (or until the legislature votes to repeal them).

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