A New Stack of Bills in Juneau

By Dave Donaldson

Legislators will have at least fifty one new bills before them when they go into session.  The bills drafted since the end of last year’s session were pre-filed and released to the public Friday morning  — and some of them will likely get extra attention. 

The measures will be added to the four hundred sixty eight bills left on the table at the end of last year’s session and will officially be read into the record when lawmakers convene later this month.

Among those drawing immediate attention is a proposal by Fairbanks Republican Jay Ramras that would amend the state constitution to allow the fiscal certainty that has become a requirement of potential users of a natural gas line from the North Slope.   The amendment would allow the administration to negotiate long-term taxes for the project.  The legislature would ratify that portion of the contract – guaranteeing a fixed rate.

Ramras also is introducing a bill that would set up permitting and management incentives for oil development on the Outer Continental Shelf.  It’s federal land, but pipelines would cross state land to tie in to the TransAlaska Pipeline.  Ramras says it’s a response to local concerns about the risks involved in using tankers to carry crude oil from offshore wells.

It offers incentives to do an above-ground pipeline and gathering systems which may allow us to pick up some commercially marginal oil fields and I think it’s a very positive way to have a discussion about mitigating factors to work with the Inupiats and some of their concerns and to do it in a manner we’re all comfortable with.

The bill would give all right-of-way and permitting authority for any development to the Commissioner of Natural Resources.  It would also exempt any real or personal property from state taxes for twenty years – but it would allow local governments to assess their own taxes.

Two bills by House members would require secrecy when complaints are made under the Executive Ethics Act.  They give the attorney general the power to throw out any complaint that is made public.

Matsu Republican Carl Gatto wants to make the federal Real I-D cards available to Alaskans – although not making them mandatory.

And Finance Co-chair Bill Stolze has a bill that would give a fishing preference to local residents when returns are low.

A complete list of the first release of prefiled bills can be found here.


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