100 Years of Alaska's Legislature
"From Territorial Days to Today"


Juneau, Alaska

22nd Territorial Legislature

Constitutional Convention Held


Gross Production Tax on Oil & Gas Established

By the mid-1950s, the statehood movement had developed strong support among many Alaskans. Several grassroots organizations, such as "Operation Statehood" and the "John Q. Citizen" campaign, were formed to support the movement. In 1955, at the Constitutional Convention, which was held in the newly appointed Constitution Hall at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, Ernest Gruening delivered a speech entitled "Let Us End American Colonialism" and Bob Bartlett, delegate to the U.S. Congress, delivered a speech entitled “Meeting the Challenge.” The convention, both speeches, and ultimately the constitution born from the convention, received national attention and significantly helped promote the idea of Alaska Statehood in the U.S. Congress as well as in the rest of the United States.

The 22nd Territorial Legislature introduced 388 bills and enacted 145, the most notable of which occurred during an extraordinary session. Measures enacted during the extraordinary session include

  • Passage of the operating budget;
  • Funding of employment benefits;
  • Passage of the Alaska Employment Security Act; and
  • Establishment of a gross production tax on oil and gas.

Other measures enacted by this Legislature during the regular session

  • Named the Willow Ptarmigan as the official bird of the Territory of Alaska;
  • Passed the Alaska Corrupt Practices Act, the Alaska Small Loans Act, the Alaska Pharmacy Act, and the Cigarette Tax Act;
  • Prohibited the sale and distribution of horror, crime and sexually indecent comic books;
  • Appropriated $300,000 for the constitutional convention;
  • Established taxes on oil and gas production and provisions for leasing of oil and natural gas holdings; and
  • Created the Alaska Oil and Gas Commission.

Beyond the Legislature

"Alaska's Flag" is adopted as the official song of the Territory.

Alaskans elect 55 delegates from across the Territory to the Constitutional Convention which is held at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks.

On February 5, 1956, the Constitutional Convention delegates adopt the Alaska Constitution which voters subsequently ratify and which later goes into effect at statehood.

The U.S. Congress transfers responsibility for mental health programs to the Territory (Alaska Mental Health Enabling Act of 1956), which also grants one million acres as the Alaska Mental Health Lands Trust to support the development and implementation of mental health programs in Alaska.

President Eisenhower sends the first U.S. advisors to South Vietnam.

The AFL and CIO merge into the largest labor organization in U.S. history.

The first seagoing oil drilling rig is placed in service.

Disneyland opens to the public with an entrance fee of $1.

James Dean dies in a car accident.

The McDonald's Corporation is founded.

In Montgomery, Alabama, on December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks, an African-American, refuses to give up her seat to a white man while riding on a city bus and is subsequently arrested and fined for breaking the laws of segregation. This event sparks the Montgomery Bus Boycott and is considered the beginning of the modern Civil Rights Movement.

Wendell Kay

James Nolan