Stedman: Bill unlikely to pass caucus

JUNEAU —  It's unlikely the Senate's oil tax bill will get enough support from within the majority caucus to move forward, a co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee said Friday.

Sen. Bert Stedman said it's in the state's best interest to fix problems in the current tax structure sooner rather than later. But at this point, he said, it looks like it may be later.

A lot can change — and fast — in the Legislature's typically chaotic last days, however. When it comes to the oil tax issue, Stedman said, "We're still working on it."

The oil tax bill, SB192, was pulled from the Senate's floor calendar Thursday after it failed to garner the votes needed from within the bipartisan caucus.

Stedman said his opinion is that it's unlikely the bill will move forward in the caucus. When asked if he meant the bill in any form, he said: "I wouldn't say that."

The Legislature is scheduled to adjourn Sunday.

Earlier this week, Gov. Sean Parnell said he planned to call lawmakers into special session if the Senate passed an oil tax bill by Sunday, to ensure the House had sufficient time to review the measure. He said he'd need to consider whether to call a special session if an oil tax bill stalled in the Senate.

The expectation coming into the session was that the Senate would take the lead in crafting an oil tax bill. The Senate last year refused to follow the House's lead and pass Parnell's oil tax bill, with leaders saying they didn't have the information needed to make a sound policy call.

One of the challenges the Senate has faced in drafting the bill is getting enough buy-in from within the bipartisan caucus. Senate President Gary Stevens has noted there is a wide range of beliefs within the caucus.

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