Struggle for compromise continues
The House and Senate are still struggling to find a compromise on House Bill 111, oil taxes and credits, with the most agreement appearing to be on ending cash credits. The HB 111 conference committee met for two hours July 12, with two versions of the bill in play.
The Senate has voted to take up the version drafted by Senate Resources Chair Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage, who is the Senate chair of the conference committee.
The House, which is not in session, has not voted to take up the version drafted by House Resources co-Chair Geran Tarr, D-Anchorage, who chairs the conference committee.
Tarr said the conference committee had been working for weeks to reach a compromise.
What was discussed July 12 included an end to cashable credits effective July 1. Among other issues there was agreement on an interest rate for delinquent taxes, applied to the entire time a tax is delinquent, effective Jan. 1, 2018.
Big issues on restructuring the state’s oil and gas tax system were deferred, with the bills proposing creation of a legislative working group to analyze the system and make recommendations for changes to the second session of the 30th Legislature, which convenes in January.
Members of the working group would be legislators, but the co-chairs of the working group could form an advisory group of non-legislators with appropriate expertise, include commissioners, other state employees, oil and gas industry and trade association representatives and economists.
Getting even that far will require agreement by the end of this special session, July 16, which would require both the House and Senate to be in Juneau.
The conference committee meeting was teleconferenced, with half of the members in Anchorage and half in Juneau. Tarr said the House didn’t want to spend money to bring legislators to Juneau until necessary.
House Speaker Bryce Edgmon, D-Dillingham, said in a July 11 statement that he didn’t think it was worthwhile to spend the money to fly House members “to Juneau for several days if there is no agreement on a compromise to HB 111.”
There was discussion but no agreement in the July 12 meeting.
The likelihood of the House agreeing to even take up the compromise bill is unknown as this issue of Petroleum News goes to press, but a statement from the House Republican Majority after the conference committee met said “House Republicans are disappointed the Democrat led House Majority has been unwilling to compromise on HB111,” and noted the approaching end of the special session.
- KRISTEN NELSON