Legislature wraps up session with oil tax change, budgets
The 28th Alaska State Legislature finished its session late Sunday with last minute passage of several bills and the state budgets.
The legislation that changes how oil extracted in the state is taxed, Senate Bill 21, passed the House in the wee hours Sunday morning by a vote of 27 yeah and 12 nay. The bill then went back to the Senate for their examination of the amendments made by the House. The Senate approved amended bill with a 12 to 8 vote Sunday afternoon. The legislation is in the governor’s hands for signiture.
The bill, introduced at the behest of Gov. Sean Parnell, reduces taxes on oil taken from the ground in Alaska. Proponents assert that the reduction in taxes will induce the oil extraction companies to increase production. The oil extraction companies have stated that the tax reduction isn’t sufficient. Opponents voice concerns that the reduction cuts too deeply into the amount of money needed to run the government and state services such as education.
On Friday, House Bill 41 to establish the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation passed the Senate after earlier passing the House and has moved on to the govenor for signature. The corporation will be charged with getting Alaska’s natural gas to population centers. HB 41 provides AGDC the authority and resources to develop, finance and operate a 500 million cubic feet per day gas pipeline from the North Slope, serving Fairbanks and Southcentral.
A bill intended to reduce domestic violence and sexual assault unanimously passed the House last week and now moves on to the governor. Senate Bill 22 will increase penalties for some sex crimes, put more investigative tools in the hands of prosecutors and allows the state to oversee people who have been served protective orders.
A “stand your ground” bill passed both legislative bodies and awaits the govenor’s signature. House Bill 24 allows people to defend themselves if they are at a place they have a right to be.
The bill that would exempt from federal regulation certain firearms and firearm accessories and provide penalties for federal officials who enforce, or attempt to enforce, a federal law, regulation, rule or order regulating certain firearms and accessories in Alaska passed the Senate last week and now moves to the governor for signature. House Bill 69 has been criticized as being contrary to the U.S. Constitution. Proponents assert that the law would strengthen the second amendment, the right to bear arms, to the U.S. Constitution.
Both houses of the legislature passed Senate Bill 37 to extend the Statewide Suicide Prevention Council until 2019. The bill is now in the govenor’s hand for signiture.
A bill to construct and equip residential housing at the Anchorage campus of the Alaska Native Medical Center passed both houses last week. Senate Bill 88 authorizes a $35 million bond for the administration to enter a lease-purchase agreement for the benefit of the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium.
Both legislative bodies passed the $9.9 billion operating budget (HB 65). The budget bill moves on to the govenor who has line-item veto power.
The capital budget of $2.2 billion also passed both houses (SB 18). It also moves on to the governor for sign off.
Some items included in the capital budget that affect Yukon-Kuskokwim area are:
• Atmautluak Traditional Council - Atmautluak Washeteria Heat Recovery Project, $350,000.
• Bethel - Sewer and Water Project Institutional Corridor, $7,000,000.
• Kwethluk - Aerial Photography Mapping, $23,435.
• Napaskiak - Replacement Generators $200,000.
• Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium - Alaska Rural Utilities Collaborative Expansion $1,750,000.
• Native Village of Nunapitchuk - Machine Shop, $150,000.
• Tundra Women’s Coalition - Sewer Line, $35,000.
• Atmautluak - Public Safety Vehicles and Equipment, $114,680.
• Yukon-Kuskokwim Correctional Center Water System Upgrade, $500,000.
• Bethel - Yukon-Kuskokwim Correctional Center Deferred Maintenance, $1,000,000.
• Nightmute School Renovation/Addition $32,965,301.
• Kuinerramiut Elitnaurviat K-12 Renovation / Addition, Quinhagak $13,207,081.
• Kwethluk K-12 Replacement School Design, Planning, Foundation, $25,008,100.
• Village Safe Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Projects and Technical Assistance, $51,500,000.
• Chinook Salmon Research Initiative, $7,500,000.
• Bethel Youth Facility Renovation Phase 2 of 2, $10,000,000.
• AHFC Teacher, Health and Public Safety Professionals Housing, $5,000,000.
• AHFC Village Public Safety Officers Housing, $1,000,000.
• Alaska Aviation Safety Program, $1,500,000.
• Emmonak airport - Snow Removal Equipment Building $1,100,000.
• Hooper Bay - Airport Improvements, $25,000,000.
Information about all of this year’s legislation is online at w3.legis. state.ak.us. Click the “Bills and Laws” link.
Bethel’s Legislative Information Office can also help citizens who want to know about legislation. Staff of the LIO can help people find out about pending or passed bills. LIO staff will email information to those who want something specific, or prepare printouts for those without internet access. Citizens can participate in teleconferences with legislators or contact legislators through the LIO. The Bethel LIO is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 310 Willow Street, 543-3541.
Y-K Region legislators can be contacted at:
Rep. Bob Herron, P.O. Box 886, Bethel, AK 99559, 907-543-5898, Representative.Bob.Herron@akleg.gov.
Rep. Bryce Edgmon, 716 W. Fourth Ave., Suite 620, Anchorage, AK 99501-2133, 907-269-0275, Representative.Bryce.Edgmon@akleg.gov.
Rep. David Guttenberg, 1292 Sadler Way, Suite 304, Fairbanks, AK 99701, 907-456-8172, Representative.David.Guttenberg@akleg.gov.
Sen. Lyman Hoffman, State Capitol Room 11, Juneau AK, 99801, 866-465-4453, Senator.Lyman.Hoffman@akleg.gov.
Sen. Gary Stevens, 305 Center Ave., Suite 1, Kodiak, AK 99615, 907-486-4925, Senator.Gary.Stevens@akleg.gov.