- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 3, 2017

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott has shot down a proposed ballot measure that calls for improved vetting of all projects that affect salmon streams, but supporters are trying to override his rejection.

Superior Court Judge Mark Rindner will hear oral arguments in an appeal Tuesday, The Juneau Empire reported (https://bit.ly/2yUed8x ).

Mallott last month ruled the measure unconstitutional, and thus invalid for the 2018 ballot.

The measure is proposed by Mike Wood of the Susitna River Coalition, Gayla Hoseth of Dillingham and Brian Kraft of Anchorage. It calls for improved vetting, but also seeks to declare all Alaska water bodies salmon-bearing unless proven otherwise.

Wood, Hoseth and Kraft filed the measure earlier this year, but after they were warned by the state that their initial draft would likely be found unconstitutional, they withdrew it, revised it and resubmitted it.

On the second go-around, the state rejected it.

Mallott followed an analysis by the Alaska Department of Law that found the proposed measure calls for specific appropriations, which is against Alaska’s constitution in terms of ballot initiatives.

The Department of Law’s analysis found widespread effects could happen if the ballot measure was to become law and the council has also expressed concerns about it.

State law allows the lieutenant governor’s decisions to be appealed to the court system. The group Stand for Salmon, which has been behind the ballot measure from the start, filed its appeal less than a week after the lieutenant governor’s decision.

The group is pressing for an expedited timeline because backers want enough time to gather signatures necessary to put the measure on next year’s ballot. Backers need more than 32,000 signatures before the start of the regular Legislative session in January in order to meet the deadline for the 2018 primary or general election.

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Information from: Juneau (Alaska) Empire, https://www.juneauempire.com

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