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Morning Headlamp - It's 'Bizarro' in Juneau

'System right now ... very flawed'


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State Senator Cathy Giessel

Alaska Legislature

'Bizarro World'. The two sides are already starting to stake out their positions over cash payments  and tax rates for oil companies, with the Senate president, Republican Pete Kelly of Fairbanks, on Monday saying that critics of Alaska's current tax policy are living in "Bizarro World." The debate centers mainly on the existing tax regime, as established in 2013 by Senate Bill 21 and up held in a public vote by nearly 100,000 Alaskans a year later. The legislation scaled back the state's escalating tax rates at higher oil prices, with an eye toward encouraging oil company investment.

 

"Right now, instead of a process to make policy, it's being made by veto pen," Senate Resources Committee chair Cathy Giessel said in an interview. "We're in a system right now that is very flawed in terms of making solid policy that is stable, predictable, durable."

 

Late Friday afternoon, House Bill 44 and House Concurrent Resolution 1 were approved by the House Judiciary Committee and moved to the House State Affairs Committee. The measures, proposed by Rep. Jason Grenn, would require a majority vote of the House or Senate to permit a legislator who has a conflict of interest to vote on a piece of legislation. Grenn added that he has good intentions and is trying to respond to something his constituents requested.

 

Headlamp has already voiced our take on HB 44. In the midst of a fiscal crisis and recession, now is not the time for legislation that will greatly divide the legislature and detract from work to solve our financial situation. As a freshman, Grenn may not understand the severity of the situation the state is facing and the need to focus on the fiscal crisis. 

 

Climate of change. Gov. Bill Walker and Democrats in the state House are considering some tentative steps to tackle climate change. "Alaska is the only Arctic state in the nation, and we are ground zero for climate impacts," Walker said. "We must maintain the integrity of our land, air and water for future generations. My administration is developing a framework to engage Alaskans in this effort [to] protect our way of life." In the speech, Walker sounded a lot like the last Alaska governor to tackle climate change — Sarah Palin. "As the largest and only Arctic state, we're also studying climate change, through our DEC-led sub-cabinet," Palin said in her last State of the State speech in 2009. Her sub-cabinet — essentially a working group of government officials established by administrative order in 2007 — was the last major statewide policy effort on climate change.

 

Rep. Andy Josephson, D-Anchorage, the new co-chair of the House Resources Committee, plans to introduce a climate bill shortly. Josephson said the issue has taken on a new urgency since the November election.

 

Headlamp will be interested to see how this pending legislation will resolve our budget deficit, create economic growth and provide a meaningful economic future for the next generation of Alaskans?

 

Data from regional authorities show that oil extraction in the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug, the Nenets Autonomous Okrug and the Komi Republic in 2016 increased to a total of 57. 6 million tons, a growth of more than 17 percent from 2015. The increase was the biggest in the Yamal Nenets AO where production amounted to 26.87 million tons, up 29.9 percent from the previous year, Neftegaz reports. A key reason for the growth is the opening of new regional fields, among them the Yarudeyskoye and Novoportovskoye fields. In addition, comes the East Messoyakha field where production was launched in September 2016. The latter holds more than 470 million tons of extractable oil and is connected with the new 485 km long Zapolyarye-Purne pipeline.

 

First Reads

It's 'Bizarro World' in Juneau as Alaska lawmakers kick off another oil tax battle
Alaska Dispatch News, Nathaniel Herz, February 6, 2017

House committee advances plan to address conflicts of interest in the Legislature
Juneau Empire, James Brooks, February 6, 2017

Russia's Arctic oil production sees big growth
The Independent Arctic Observer, Atles Staalesen, February 6, 2017

Walker, House Dems aim to put climate policy back on the table
Alaska Public Radio News, Rachel Waldholz, February 6, 2017

AEDC: business confidence fall tied to legislative inaction
Alaska Journal of Commerce, Elwood Brehmer, February 6, 2017

Alaska Sen. Sullivan takes a new shot at breaking up the 9th Circuit court
Alaska Dispatch News, Erica Martinson, February 6, 2017

ALASKA SENATE PRESSES ON WITH SPENDING LIMITS
KTVF11, February 6, 2017

AK Headlamp
A project of the Alaska Support Industry Alliance
3301 C Street
Anchorage, AK 99503

 

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