The House of Representatives has quickly approved a bill to open the doors for more military-related business expansion in Alaska.
The House approved HB223 by a 33-2 margin during Friday’s floor session.
Sponsored by Rep. Steve Thompson, R-Fairbanks, the proposal allows communities to give up to 10 years of full or partial property tax exemptions to businesses in a Military Facility Zone.
“By allowing tax exemptions, we’re showing the military, and our local economy, that we are ready and willing to work together,” Thompson said in a press release
The effort is an expansion of HB316 that passed the 27th Legislature and created the Military Facility Zones. Development and businesses in the zones are eligible for specific federal tax credits and funding sources.
“This will give (local governments) the opportunity to deliberate and decide whether or not to give a full or partial tax exemption for an economic boost to their community,” Thompson said shortly before the vote was taken.
“They will weigh out the options and the benefits versus the negatives,” he added.
Still, others expressed concern the law wouldn’t relieve the tax burden, but rather shift it to other Alaskans.
“Somebody has to pay, and it’s going to be residents who have to pick up the slack,” said Rep. Tammie Wilson, R-North Pole.
Supporters of the bill said its passage would increase the attractiveness for the federal government to expand military operations in Alaska, which would lead to more economic growth.
“They’re trying to enhance economic opportunities and enhance the missions of the military,” Thompson said of local governments who want to dole out the tax exemptions.
The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.