Sitka democratic representative Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins (Joe Viechnicki/KFSK)

It looks like Alaskans this year will get a chance to decide a ballot question on legislative pay, conflicts of interest for law makers and gifts from lobbyists.
The state’s Division of Elections has determined The Alaska Government Accountability Act has enough signatures to put question to voters on either the primary or special election ballot this year. More than 32,000 were needed; the Division of Elections this winter verified 40,867 signatures.

The initiative would stop per diem payments to lawmakers if they fail to pass a state operating budget in the first 121 days of a session. It would also toughen state law on financial conflicts of interest for legislators, reimbursement for foreign travel and campaigning by foreign corporations.

It was sponsored by state representatives Jason Grenn of Anchorage and Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins of Sitka along with private citizen Bonnie Jack of Anchorage.
Supporters of the measure call the changes common sense reforms. Law makers opposed to the initiative say it will change who can afford to be a legislator.

Whether it’s on the primary ballot in August or general election ballot in November depends on when the House and Senate end their work this year. The legislature can also pass a bill that takes the same steps, in which case the issue would not go to voters.