Lawmakers will head back to Juneau for special session

Posted: Friday, June 23, 2006

Lawmakers will head back to Juneau next month to once again take up bills relating to oil taxes and a gas pipeline.

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Gov. Frank Murkowski's office informed legislative leaders on Thursday that a second special session will be called, beginning July 12.

Murkowski was particularly interested in seeing passed a proposed tax on oil company profits in Alaska which would replace the state's current production tax, said his spokesman, John Manly.

Murkowski had proposed a 20 percent base tax rate. Lawmakers tried to find agreement on a higher rate but couldn't settle on a number.

"Even at 20 percent we are losing $3.22 million a day and he believes that the people of Alaska want that changed," said Manly.

Lawmakers adjourned the first special session June 8 after a proposed compromise rate of 22.8 percent failed to win approval in the House.

The tax bill is a key component to Murkowski's gas contract proposal with three major oil companies who propose to build a pipeline taking North Slope natural gas to either Canada or the Midwest. The project, estimated to cost between $19 billion and $27 billion, would be the largest construction project in North American history.

Three other bills Murkowski introduced to smooth the way for his contract proposal, which must be ratified by the Legislature, also failed to pass.

Manly said the governor also will ask lawmakers to continue the gas line contract discussions but he did not know if there would be any changes from the legislation that was proposed last session.

He said more details would be available at a news conference today with the governor's chief of staff, Jim Clark.

Murkowski is finishing up a tour of Iraq and Afghanistan and is expected to return to Alaska on Monday.

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