Senate committee backs oil tax hike

Full Senate to vote today before bill returns to the House

Posted: Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Senate Finance Committee reversed its course Wednesday night and decided to back Gov. Sarah Palin's tax hike on oil companies' net profits.

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By agreeing to raise taxes from 22.5 percent to 25 percent, the committee essentially paved the way for the bill to pass in both houses before the session ends at midnight Friday.

The Senate Finance Committee bill must still go to the Senate floor today for a full vote before returning to the House.

"What this does is reduce the drama," said Sen. Hollis French, D-Anchorage, who is not on the committee. He spoke while the Senate Finance Committee continued put the final touches on its bill by considering further amendments.

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The committee's recommendation started out Wednesday morning as a substantive rewrite to the House's version, which was passed Sunday night.

Optimism to avoid another special session was scarce in some parts of the Capitol earlier Wednesday. By lunch hour, several members of House questioned the chances to pass a bill.

Rep. Mike Doogan, D-Anchorage, said he did not believe the House would support the Senate Finance Committee's earlier version and was stunned at the changes.

"If I were an editor of a newspaper and had to rewrite the copy this much, I would have taken the reporter's byline off of it," Doogan said. "This is a rewrite, not a revision."

But by late evening, the committee opted to support Palin, who threatened to call lawmakers back for a second special session if no bill was produced.



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