Legislative Week in Review: Week 5

Key Messages of the Week

  • HB 111 – the oil tax bill – continues to be analyzed. Administration presentations this week, next week industry testimony coming. Likely two weeks out from a revised Committee substitute of the bill.
  • Slowly progressing to budget closeouts in the Finance sub-committee process.
  • Serious budget reform and reductions have not yet emerged, in fact, House Finance Co-Chairs are not allowing the majority of reductions to be proposed.
  • Considerable time and energy is being spent on ways to restructure the Permanent Fund/use Earnings Reserve/dividend payout.

February 13, 2017

  • House Resources had a hearing on HB 111, the new oil tax legislation. Rep. Josephson’s staff presented a commentary driven historical review of oil tax policy in Alaska. Rep. Tarr delivered a sectional breakdown of the bill.
  • The Senate passed House Joint Resolution 6 (HRJ 6) supporting the construction of the road connecting King Cove & Cold Bay. Waiting to be signed by Gov. Walker now.
  • House Finance Committee heard the first presentation on HB 115 (income tax and PFD cut bill). Bill is estimated to generate $655 million from the income tax – 15% of federal tax liability.

February 14, 2017

  • Keith Meyer, President of AGDC, presented to Senate Finance. Explanation of what AGDC has planned in 2017/2018 – intends to spend $102 million pursuing FERC application/locating customers/commercial financers.
  • House Finance heard continued testimony on HB 115 – with lots of discussion focused on federal tax rates, filing requirements, other states with income taxes and how those are implemented.

February 15, 2017

  • Senate and House Resources got an update from the Alaska Miners Association and Council of Alaska Producers.
  • The House passed HJR 5 by Rep. Westlake – endorsing ANWR leasing and urging Congress to open up the refuge to oil and gas development. However, HJR 5 received 4 NO votes. This was the highest number of NO votes a pro-ANWR resolution has ever received. Representative Geran Tarr, Co-Chair of the House Resources Committee was one of those NO votes. Again, the Co-Chair of the House Resources Committee opposes ANWR.

February 16, 2017

  • House Finance heard an interesting presentation from Revenue Commissioner Randy Hoffbeck. His assertion was that if Alaska doesn’t impose an income tax or restructure the dividend program, Alaskans would be drastically and negatively impacted. Commissioner Hoffbeck’s comments were in relation to HB 115.

February 18, 2017

  • House Resources heard another presentation by Tax Division Director on HB 111. Lots of discussion and response to questions over the different impacts the bill will have regarding interest, credits, NOLs, minimum tax etc. Private sector economists were quick to point out significant flaws in the administration’s modeling.
  • House Finance took public testimony on HB 115 – hearing from Alaskans all over the state.