How do I
look something up in the statutes?
make sure you are looking at the most current version
of the law
you are researching and that you have examined any annual
supplements containing recently adopted laws. The Alaska
are updated every year after the legislative session to incorporate
any recent laws enacted by the legislature. A law generally
takes effect 90 days after it becomes law (is signed by the
governor or is enacted into law after the lapse of the
period for governor's action found in the Article II, Section
17 of the state's constitution), unless another effective
date is specifically provided. Copies of Alaska Statutes
may be found at
a Legislative Information Office, a library, or on the Legislative
Title 29, like
all of the Alaska Statutes, is organized according to a numbering
system of chapter and section headings. As an example, the
statute limiting the powers of a home rule municipality is
found in Title 29, Chapter 10, Section 200 (or AS 29.10.200.)
annotations follow many provisions and advise the reader about
recent changes, legislative history, and Alaska Supreme Court
cases that have discussed the provision. AS 01.10.020-.110
provides information on rules of statutory construction, the
date the statute takes effect, definitions, and the affect
of amendments and repealing statutes. Volume 1 contains a
user's guide with additional information on reading the statutes
and annotations and Volume 12 contains a subject index. It
is a good idea when researching the statutes to also check
the subject index to the Alaska Statutes to make sure there
is not a law in a title other than Title 29 that might apply.
What if I
can't find any provision in law that clarifies an issue of
local government authority?
If Title 29
says nothing on the subject and no other law seems to apply
then the local government is most likely within its authority
to enact its own law, regulation, or policy to address the
issue. The State Legislature cannot address every possible
issue that a local government might need to deal with. The
drafters of the Alaska Constitution recognized this fact and
adopted an approach to local government authority that simply
states that the powers of local governments are to be given
a "liberal construction." Essentially, this means local
governments in Alaska may exercise all implied powers and
functions not prohibited by the law.
What if a
municipal ordinance says something different than Title 29
or another law?
If an ordinance
conflicts with a higher authority, such as state or federal
law, such that a person cannot obey state or federal law without
violating the ordinance, or obey the ordinance without violating
another law, then the ordinance is invalid and cannot be enforced.
In some cases a local ordinance can be more restrictive than
the law of a higher authority unless the law specifically
prohibits more restrictive ordinances or a more restrictive
local ordinance would undermine the purpose of the law.
What if a
municipal ordinance was passed without following the procedure
required by Title 29?
is invalid and cannot be enforced. Title 29 sets out some
very specific requirements for the passage of an ordinance.
These requirements include notice and public hearing and specific
timelines for when each must occur (AS
29.25.020). Only a home rule municipality can, within
certain limitations, adopt a procedure for passing an ordinance
that is different from the requirements of Title 29. AS
29.10.200 sets out certain limitations on home rule enactments.
What if the
governing body of a municipality authorized a certain action
by resolution that Title 29 says must be authorized by ordinance?
The action authorized
by resolution is void and will have no force or effect until
authorized by ordinance. Home rule municipalities may be exempt
from having to authorize some actions by ordinance.
I find or get copies of Title 29?
Title 29 is
just one part of the larger set of Alaska Statutes. Most public
libraries, legislative information offices, and the offices
of most state agencies have copies of the full set of published
Alaska Statutes. Title 29 can also be found on the Internet on Commerce's LOGON home page or see the link to Current
Alaska Statutes on the State Legislature's "Folio
InfoBase" web page.
ordinances enacted prior to the 1985 changes in Title 29 valid?
More than likely
ordinances enacted prior to 1985 are still valid because most
of the changes made to Title 29 were not designed to restrict
the powers of municipalities. If a municipality
has not updated its code of ordinances since 1985, it may
have ordinances that are more restrictive than they need to
be because they were designed to comply with the older version
of Title 29.