Alaska is characterized as a Republican state like all other states of Unites States. Alaska is divided into boroughs unlike other states of U.S. which is divided into countries. There are total sixteen boroughs in Alaska. The functioning of each of these boroughs is almost similar to that of countries in other states of U.S. The major difference is that unlike countries, the boroughs do not include the states complete land area. The land area which does not form the part of borough is organized as the Unorganized Borough. This unorganized borough does not have its own government but governed by the State government directly. This region is divided into 11 census areas by the U.S. Census Bureau. This division is for the convenience in collection of the statistical data and presentation.
The Alaskan government like all other State consists of three important branches. Each of these branches has its own specific powers and duties.
The branches are:
The executive branch consists of:
- The Governor of Alaska: The Governor is Alaska’s chief executive officer and also the Commander in chief of the State’s armed forces. Being the chief executive officer, the government is responsible for supervising all the principal departments. The governor has the power to change or reorganize an organization itself or just its functions. The members of regulatory, quasi-judicial, advisory boards, non-attorney members of judicial and advisory boards, district, superior and Supreme Court judges are appointed by the governor. The governor also has the power to reorganize the executive branch by his executive order. The government is responsible for observing and confirming the laws through proper court actions, granting pardons, remitting and suspending fines and forfeitures etc. The Governor of Alaska is elected for a period of four years.
- Other independently elected constitutional officers: This includes the Lieutenant Government, Commissioner of Administration, Commissioner of Commerce, Community and Economic development, Commissioner of Corrections, Commissioner of Education and Early Development, Commissioner of Environmental Conservation, Commissioner of Health and Social Service, Commissioner of Labor and work Force development, Attorney General Department of Law, Adjutant General Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, Commissioner of Natural Resources, Commissioner of Natural Safety, Commissioner of Public Safety, Commissioner of Revenue, Commissioner of Transportation and Public Facilities.
The Legislative Branch of Alaskan government consists of:
- Alaska House of Representatives: Alaska House of Representatives are comprised of 40 members. They are elected for a period of two years.
- Alaska Senate: Alaska Senate is comprised of 20 members. These members are elected for a period of four years
The Legislatives regular session usually lasts from January to May; it is during this period most of the work of legislature is carried out. The session is usually conducted in the second Monday of January or on the third Tuesday of January in case if election for Governor has been conducted. According to the law, the session should not extend for more than 120 days. The governor or the legislature has the power to conduct special sessions in accordance to the need which should not extend for more than one month. The legislative activities like committee meeting, press conferences, and the arguments conducted before the Supreme Court etc. taking place during the legislative session are live telecasted without editing by the Gavel to Gavel Alaska. The Gavel to Gavel Alaska is a service provided by the Juneau’s public television station, The KT00-TV.
The Judicial branch of Alaska consists of The Alaska court system, The Judicial council and the Commission on Judicial Conduct. The court is responsible for applying law and determining the punishment for criminal cases and other controversies. Unlike other states there are no municipal courts in Alaska but instead has a centralized, unified court system which is funded by the state.
The Alaska court System
Includes all the court systems which come below the federal level. The Alaska’s court system consist of four levels, they are:
- The Supreme Court: The Supreme Court consists of five justices, one chief justice and four associate justices and is the highest level of State Court. The court prefers the appeal which comes from the trial courts after final judgment. The court also has the authority to accept or deny the decisions made by the Court of Appeal. The Supreme Court can also make decisions on cases pending in the Court of Appeal.
- The Court of Appeal: It was established in 1980 by the State Statute and consists of a three judge panel. The court can hear the appeal which comes after the judgment of the cases like habeas corpus matters and Juvenile Delinquency Cases where minors are involved in the crime.
- The Superior Court: The Superior Courts are trial courts of general jurisdiction which are located in Alaska’s four judicial districts. A Superior court Judge will be selected by the Supreme Court Judge for each of the four Judicial District. The court has the authority to hear Juvenile cases, domestic relation cases, cases regarding the property of dead person etc.
- The District Court: It was established in 1959 by the State Statute. It is also a trial court but of a limited jurisdiction. This court hears cases like civil cases which involves recovery of not more than 50,000$, domestic violence cases, cases involving violation of municipal ordinances etc.
The Judicial Council
Functionsindependent of court system. Its main functions include soliciting, screening and nominating candidates for the gubernatorial positions in the vacant judgeship, evaluation and recommendation to the public about judges and justices before each retention election, evaluation of administration of justices and report to the Supreme Court and Legislature etc.
The Commission of Judicial Conduct
The Commission of Judicial Conduct is created by the state and has the authority to evaluate the judicial misconduct and can also recommend the Supreme Court for the sanctioning of Justice or Judges.