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House panel ready to take up oil tax issues

Posted: March 22, 2013 - 12:06am
Sen. Mike Dunleavy, R-Wasilla, is seen in the foreground, listening to discussion on the Senate floor of SB21, which would overhaul Alaska's oil tax structure, on Wednesday, March 20, 2013, in Juneau, Alaska. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer)  Becky Bohrer
Becky Bohrer
Sen. Mike Dunleavy, R-Wasilla, is seen in the foreground, listening to discussion on the Senate floor of SB21, which would overhaul Alaska's oil tax structure, on Wednesday, March 20, 2013, in Juneau, Alaska. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer)

JUNEAU — The House Resources Committee is ready to dig into a proposed overhaul of Alaska’s oil tax structure.

The Senate passed SB21, 11-9, late Wednesday but reconsideration notice was served, meaning it could face a vote again before moving on. A new vote Thursday had the same result.

The House will have a little more than three weeks to spend on a bill the Senate has been working on since late January. House Resources began holding hearings on the bill last month before letting the Senate take the lead, allowing the committee to work on other bills.

Co-chair Eric Feige, R-Chickaloon, said his committee has a number of members experienced in working on the oil tax issue.

“We’ve got a lot of talent there, and I expect we’ll be using all that talent to make sure that we make the right decision for Alaska — a decision that is fair not only to the people of the state but to the companies that try to do business here and wish to invest in our state,” he said.

The committee’s primary focus will be on whether the bill makes Alaska “competitive enough, such that we can attract investment to the state and do something about our falling oil production,” he said.

Supporters of SB21 say it will make Alaska more competitive for investment dollars and should lead to new oil production. Critics call it a giveaway to oil companies, with no guarantees.

Feige expects a bill to advance from the committee in the first week of April. It would then go to the House Finance Committee. The legislative session is scheduled to end April 14.

House Speaker Mike Chenault said he believes the House will have enough time to do its work.

If the House passes a bill that’s different from the Senate’s, and the Senate doesn’t agree to the changes, the bill would go to a conference committee, where negotiators from both chambers would try to hammer out the differences.

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