Morning Headlamp – Trumps energy plan will fuel the economy

According to the Alaska Dispatch News, the percentage of out-of-state residents working in Alaska’s oil and gas industry inched up for the sixth straight year in 2015, reaching 36.4 percent, according to newly released figures from the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development. The number reflects a steady annual increase since 2009, when the nonresident hire rate was 28.1 percent, according to the February edition of Alaska Economic Trends issued by the agency. Kara Moriarty, president of the Alaska Oil and Gas Association, said some companies have rates of Alaska employment that are high by any standard, such as Hilcorp Alaska at 90 percent and Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. at 95 percent.

Nonresidents in the state’s oil and gas industry earned $708 million in 2015, 34 percent of its total wages. Oil and gas companies, including oil-field service firms, are the top wage-payers in Alaska, averaging $139,704 in 2015, more than 2 1/2 times higher than the statewide average of $54,192, the report said. One in five Alaska jobs and $2.6 billion in wages went to nonresidents in 2014, according to figures released early last year. The statewide nonresident hire rate rose annually between 2009 and 2014, with construction and other sectors contributing to the increase.

Following President Trump’s executive orders to advance construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines less than a week after inauguration, Trump stated, “We’re going to put a lot of workers, a lot of skilled workers, back to work.” This, according to executive vice president and chief strategy officer for the American Petroleum Institute Mary Durbin, starting “with policies that create jobs and win bipartisan public support, moving forward with long-delayed pipeline projects is wise.”

Rather than force lawmakers to abide by the existing rule, which requires them to give 24 hours’ notice before meetings late in the legislative session, Freshman Wasilla Rep. David Eastman wants to change the rule to accommodate the current practice — in which meetings are often announced the evening before the hearing with less than 24 hours’ notice. Eastman on Monday introduced the legislation, House Concurrent Resolution 4. In an interview, Eastman said he’s trying to enhance the public’s confidence in the Legislature by bringing its behavior in line with its rules. “I don’t care which way it goes,” he said. “If the practice changes to match what was agreed on in the rules previously, that’s great.”

Despite widespread support in the Legislature, HB 23, a measure to grant benefits to the families of firefighters and police killed in the line of duty, and its predecessors have endured a slog. Last year, there was a widespread consensus that the Legislature should grant health insurance to the spouses and children of slain firefighters and police, but the measure failed to pass before the Legislature adjourned its regular session. Conflicts arose over who should be eligible and who should pay for those benefits. Gov. Bill Walker revived the bill during a summer special session, but it again failed to gain traction.


First Reads

Nonresidents in oil and gas industry rose slightly in 2015 for 6th year straight
Alaska Dispatch News, Alex DeMarban, February 6, 2017

Trump’s energy plan will fuel the economy
TribLive, Marty Durbin, February 6, 2017

Postponing state tax decisions invites more legislative gridlock
Alaska Dispatch News, Dermot Cole, February 7, 2017

Wasilla lawmaker aims to stop legislative rule-breaking by changing the rule, not the violation
Alaska Dispatch News, Nathaniel Herz, February 7, 2017

Amendments temporarily slow death benefits bill
Juneau Empire, James Brooks, February 7, 2017