Bill to add new verse to Alaska state song hits a dead end

April 14, 2011 

JUNEAU -- The fortunes of a bill to add a second verse to Alaska's state song changed rapidly on Thursday, after a referral to a committee unfriendly to the measure.

House Judiciary Committee chairman Carl Gatto, R-Palmer, said he will not consider the bill until next year, adding that he doesn't see the additional verse's necessity.

"I oppose changing the history of the state, which is too young," Gatto said. "It just doesn't make for a good song."

Bill sponsor Sen. Bettye Davis, D-Anchorage, was not available for comment.

The second verse, written by the late poet laureate Carol Beery Davis, includes references to Benny Benson, designer of the state flag, and to the culture of Alaska Natives.

It has already been de facto adopted in some instances; the song is printed with the second verse in the back of the state Legislature's directory, and has been sung with the second verse included in the Legislature.

A campaign to add the second verse to the state song "Alaska's Flag" has been ongoing since 1987. Versions have been approved by the House or Senate in years past, but all have run out of steam or been rejected by the opposite body.

Last session's version of the bill was passed by the Senate but ultimately stalled after a referral to the House Finance Committee kept it from a floor vote, said Sen. Linda Menard, R-Wasilla, who sponsored last session's bill.

This year's bill had been forwarded out of the House State Affairs Committee earlier on Thursday, meaning it only had to be referred by the Rules Committee before reaching a vote on the House Floor. Instead, it was referred to Gatto's committee under a request he made weeks ago. He said there may be a copyright issue that bears scrutiny by his committee.

"I would find it mean-spirited if they did not hear the bill this session," Menard said.

Here are the words, with the proposed addition

"Alaska's Flag"

Eight stars of gold on a field of blue -

Alaska's flag. May it mean to you

The blue of the sea, the evening sky,

The mountain lakes, and the flow'rs nearby;

The gold of the early sourdough's dreams,

The precious gold of the hills and streams;

The brilliant stars in the northern sky,

The "Bear" - the "Dipper" - and, shining high,

he great North Star with its steady light,

Over land and sea a beacon bright.

Alaska's flag - to Alaskans dear,

The simple flag of a last frontier.

Proposed new verse

A native lad chose our Dipper's stars

for Alaska's flag that there be no bars

among our cultures. Be it known

through years our natives' past has grown

to share our treasures, hand in hand,

to keep Alaska our Great Land.

We love the northern midnight sky,

our mountains, lakes and the streams nearby;

Our Great North Star with its steady light

will guide our cultures clear and bright

with Nature's flag to Alaskans dear -

The simple flag of a last Frontier.

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