State and local briefly

Posted: Wednesday, February 23, 2000

Bill would help track pesticides

JUNEAU - Parents would be able to monitor pesticide use in schools, parks and other public places under legislation proposed by an Anchorage lawmaker.

At a luncheon hosted by Alaska Community Action on Toxics to explain the bill, Rep. Sharon Cissna said Alaskans don't know how much pesticide is being used and where it's being used in the state. She also said not enough is known about links between pesticide exposure and disease.

``Those things made me feel really strongly that that we need to take a step,'' said Cissna, an Anchorage Democrat.

Michelle Wilson of Angoon, a spokeswoman for Alaska Community Action on Toxics, said pesticides cover everything from insect sprays to herbicides. In public buildings, they often are used to control silverfish or spiders.

House Bill 356 would require certified applicators to report pesticide use to the state Department of Environmental Conservation. Applicators are required to collect the information now, but don't have to report it, Cissna said.

The bill requires DEC to establish a pesticide tracking system readily available to the public and to integrate pesticide tracking with other data bases such as the cancer registry to see if there is a correlation between pesticide use and disease.

As a member of the House's Democratic minority, Cissna may have difficulty pushing the bill through the Legislature. The bill has not been scheduled for a hearing.

Oil industry protests tax change plan

JUNEAU - Oil industry officials warned a legislative committee Tuesday that changing the state's tax system to bring in more money from the industry would destabilize the rules of doing business in Alaska's oil patch.

The industry was reacting to Rep. Eric Croft's proposal to change the income tax calculation on big oil companies from ``modified apportionment'' - based on a percentage of worldwide profits - to ``separate accounting,'' meaning the profits from a company's Alaska operations.

The state changed from separate accounting to modified apportionment in 1981 under the threat of a lawsuit filed by oil companies. The suit was later dismissed, but the change has remained on the books.

Since then, Croft, an Anchorage Democrat, estimates the state has lost $4.6 billion because the apportionment formula favors the industry. Switching back would bring the state about $100 million a year, he estimated.

For oil companies with operations all over the world, the idea raises two unpleasant prospects - higher taxes and an ongoing fight with the state over how much money was made where.

Because most of the crude produced in Alaska is sold and refined elsewhere, deciding where profits are actually made can be tricky. ``We don't know what that income is, and somebody makes it up,'' Steve Mahoney, a tax attorney for Arco Alaska Inc., told the House Oil and Gas Committee.

Under modified apportionment, the state considers the production, property and sales the company has in Alaska and uses those numbers to tax a percentage of worldwide income.

That allows Alaska to tax some of the profits oil companies make out of state, said Judy Brady, executive director of the Alaska Oil and Gas Association, which represents 17 oil companies that operate in Alaska.

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