Brendan McGuire


Since statehood, Alaska has had one of the worst unemployment rates in the nation. The state has long combated its joblessness epidemic with a suite of laws known as Alaska Hire, which imposes a resident hiring preference on public works projects in the state. This popular law has been in place in one form or another since the state’s first legislature passed an early version in 1960. Alaska Hire’s story changed when former Attorney General Kevin Clarkson wrote a memo to Governor Mike Dunleavy arguing that the law is unconstitutional under the federal Privileges and Immunities Clause and the Alaska Equal Protection Clause, and that the statute should no longer be enforced. This Note provides a counterpoint to Attorney General Clarkson’s memo by showing that Alaska Hire is legal under both the federal and state constitutions. The Note contends that Alaska’s unique circumstances coupled with the legal improvements the current version of Alaska Hire has made in light of its predecessors’ defects cut against Attorney General Clarkson’s arguments. With the future of Alaska Hire in question, this Note hopes to provide a starting point for any future legal defenses of this eminently important law.

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