Well, the first half of the 28th legislative session is in the books, and two major focuses of State Republicans and Governor Sean Parnell have passed.
Oil Tax reform, and legislation to forward an instate natural gas pipeline from the North Slope to tidewater.
But does that mean that it’s time to que up a victory song?
North Slope production is declining, we all know that, but as soon as Parnell’s signature graces the bottom of Senate Bill 21, will there be a “stampede” to Prudhoe Bay?
What happens in Juneau say next year or even two-years from now, when the production decline isn’t sufficiently reversed? Will this new tax policy be to blame, and lawmakers calling to change the rate once again?
During the debate in Juneau, many also claimed that Alaska’s apparently ever changing oil tax policy has also clouded the business climate in the state, but do lawmakers, especially in election years, have the patience to let this new oil tax policy stay long enough to provide a stable business climate?
Opponents of the change are carrying along party lines claiming that the new tax policy is nothing more than a giveaway to the big oil companies. But when the base tax rate was increased, where’s the giveaway…besides on the talking points memo of left leaning bloggers, radio hosts, and Democrats with bruised egos falling their fall from majority this year.
Speaker Mike Chenault and Anchorage Representative Mike Hawker’s House Bill 4, has passed, to allow the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation to move forward with an open season for their instate gas project.
The debate has been loud and furious, with special interest groups on both sides buy ads throughout the state claiming everything from the project being too small, going the wrong place (although there is no stated termination location in the bill,) all the way to this legislation being the saving grace for Alaska’s future. Will it be? Who knows for sure, but it should be blatantly obvious that nothing would ever be known, if such legislation didn’t allow Dan Fauske and the AGDC to go to an open season to see if there is buyers or not. Especially with that little thing called AGIA keeping Alaska’s hands fairly tied when it comes to issues of natural gas pipelines.
So after years of strong focus on these two main issues, what’s next for the legislature to spend 90-days debating?
Think about it! AMR 4/17/13