The State of Alaska employs approximately 15,000 employees statewide. These employees work primarily for the Executive Branch of State Government.
The State government is divided into three specific entities that were established by the Alaska Constitution. The three branches that were created are the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches.
The Executive Branch is the largest branch of government and is headed by an elected Governor and Lt. Governor. The Governor is the chief executive officer of the state and is responsible for the faithful execution of the laws and public programs enacted and funded by the legislative branch; 14 state departments carry out these various duties. The Governor appoints Commissioners to head most departments. The exceptions are the Departments of Education and Early Development and Fish and Game whose Commissioners are appointed by their respective boards and commissions and then approved by the Governor.
The majority of Alaska State employees are within these 14 departments. They are involved in keeping the state government operating and providing public services. Most of the positions held by these employees comprise the State Classified service as defined by Alaska Statute 39.25 (also known as the State Personnel Act).
The Legislative Branch is responsible for enacting the laws of the State of Alaska and appropriating the money necessary to operate the government. Alaska has a bicameral Legislature composed of the House of Representatives and the Senate. The House of Representatives is composed of 40 members elected from 40 election districts for two-year terms. The Senate has 20 members elected from 20 senate districts for four-year terms, with one half of the membership standing for election every two years. House and Senate election districts are determined on the basis of population. Under the State Constitution, redistricting is accomplished every 10 years after the reporting of the decennial federal census. An advisory redistricting board is appointed by and assists the Governor in redistricting the state.
There are four levels of courts in the Alaska Court System (the Judicial Branch), each with different powers, duties and responsibilities. Alaska has a unified, centrally administered, and totally state-funded judicial system. Municipal governments do not maintain separate court systems.
The four levels of courts in the Alaska Court System are the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, the Superior Court, and the District Court. The Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals are appellate courts, while the Superior and District Courts are trial courts. Jurisdiction and responsibilities of each level of court are set out in Title 22 of the Alaska Statutes.
The Supreme Court and the Superior Court were established in the Alaska Constitution. In 1959, the legislature created a District Court for each judicial district and granted power to the Supreme Court to increase or decrease the number of District Court judges. In 1980, the legislature created a Court of Appeals.
The Chief Justice of the Alaska Supreme Court is the administrative head of the Alaska Court System. An administrative director is appointed by the Chief Justice in concurrence with the Supreme Court. The director supervises the administration of all courts in the state.
Rules governing the administration of all courts and the rules of practice and procedure for civil and criminal cases are promulgated by the supreme court.