A handful of leading advocates for the new oil tax regime made the case for keeping the law to a friendly audience on Wednesday.
The forum was hosted by the Anchorage Younger Republicans, and panelists included economist Scott Goldsmith and State Sen. Cathy Giessel. They argued that if voters repealed new tax law in August, the oil companies could abandon development of a natural gas pipeline. They also credited the law, which caps the production tax at 35 percent, for adding more drill rigs to the North Slope.
The event wasn’t a debate, and the invited panelists all spoke against returning to a system where the tax rate increases along with the price of oil. The 60-person audience also included plenty of people who had already made their minds up on the issue. Anchorage Chamber of Commerce President Andrew Halcro moderated the event, and many of the questions he took from the floor expressed support for the tax law.
“Uh, ‘With this much data seemingly in favor of SB21, how could anyone disagree?’” Halcro read from a notecard. “Not a loaded question …”
Proponents of the referendum were not invited to speak, but they were allowed to rent a table outside the forum. Ray Metcalfe, who served in the Legislature in the 1980s, was on his own manning the booth, offering bumper stickers to a crowd that seemed less than eager to take them.
“How are you going to convert anybody if you don’t go into the lion’s den?” asked Metcalfe.
Metcalfe thinks he persuaded two of the attendees to vote for the referendum by showing them that other oil-producing nations tax at a higher rate than Alaska.
The referendum will appear on the August 19 primary ballot.
- The Department of Fish and Game will pull the north line of the Ugashik District back away from the haulout site again, Salomone said, the same as last year. The exact coordinates will be published with the first announcement from Fish and Game about June 1.
- The Navy will scan Kodiak and Unalaska waters for World War II-era munitions using underwater drones next month, as part of an ongoing effort to eventually remove the explosives. What could happen and whether the historic weapons would detonate is unclear.
- Whales might be the largest animals on the planet, but they haven't always been so huge. Researchers say the ocean giants only became enormous fairly recently, and over a short period of time.
- Typical criminal cases go to local district attorneys for consideration. The head of the Office of Special Prosecutions wouldn't elaborate on why this case was in his office.