I, Tony Knowles, Governor of the State of Alaska, under the authority of art. III, secs. 1 and 24, of the Alaska Constitution, establish the Commission on Rural Alaska Governance and Empowerment (Commission).
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE
The interest of Alaskans in governance in rural Alaska has been recently renewed, in part by the Venetie case, (Alaska v. Native Village of Venetie Tribal Government, 101 F. 3d 1286 (9th Cir. 1996) cert. granted, 117 S. Ct. 2478, 138 L. Ed. 2d 987 (U.S. June 23, 1997)No. 96 – 1577), currently pending before the United States Supreme Court. Regardless of the outcome of this case, the State of Alaska has a paramount interest in reviewing its relationship with and responsibility to rural Alaska, with the overall goal of bringing Alaskans together. That review should involve extensive participation by those most affected: Alaska’s rural residents.
All Alaskans benefit from a productive partnership between the state and rural governance institutions, including federally recognized tribes, as they work together to maximize the benefits to their citizens. Such a partnership can encourage a dialog between individual Alaskans about how to assert greater responsibility and control over their communities and their daily lives. A cooperative relationship among all governance institutions in Alaska will help forge closer ties between urban and rural Alaska and provide greater economic opportunities.
A commission on rural governance and empowerment can further those goals by advancing recommendations about the appropriate role of state-authorized local governments and of tribes; maximize local autonomy and control; encourage respect for differing aspirations, traditions and cultures; and improve delivery of government services, including public safety, justice, economic development, natural resource management, education and public health.
This commission can productively build on the work of the Alaska Natives Commission, which in May 1994, issued its final report and recommendations which are designed to increase rural self-reliance, self-determination and preserve Alaska’s Native cultures.
The Commission is charged with:
1. Examining the responsibilities and relationships in the delivery of services in rural Alaska by all governance institutions, including municipalities, federally recognized tribes and other state, federal and local institutions that affect rural Alaska.
2. Preparing recommendations for furtherance of governance in rural Alaska, with an emphasis on local autonomy and control and the need for accountability of public resources;
3. Developing recommendations on ways to fulfill the aspirations of rural Alaskans for self-reliance, responsibility, greater control over their destinies and cultural preservation.
By April 17, 1998, the Commission shall prepare a report to me on the scope, composition, charge, and working framework for the Commission to further the purposes of this Administrative Order. I will use the report to establish further timelines and framework for a final report.
The Commission consists of at least 12, but no more than 18 voting members, appointed by me to serve at my pleasure. Additionally, state and federal officials may be named as ex-officio members.
The Department of Community and Regional Affairs shall provide necessary administrative support to the Commission. I direct all executive branch agencies to assist the Commission, upon request, to the maximum extent possible consistent with legal mandates.
I Will designate a voting member of the Commission to serve as chair. A Commission member does not receive compensation as a member of the Commission. Members of the Commissioner who are not public officials or employees are entitled to per diem and travel expenses in the same manner permitted for members of state boards and commissions. Per diem and travel expenses for a member of the Commission who is a state officer or employee are the responsibility of the state agency represented by that member.
Meetings of the Commission shall be conducted in accordance with AS 44.62.310 (Open. Meetings Law). The Commission shall keep a record of its meetings.
This Order takes effect immediately.
Dated this 20th day of February, 1998.
By: S/S Tony Knowles