Wednesday evening, the Alaska State Senate took historical action in rewriting the oil production tax structure to incentivize increased production while ensuring the interests of Alaskans are protected. Over the last couple of weeks I heard from many of you on this important issue. As in most key issues facing our state, messages were both in support and in opposition to changing the existing ACES tax structure. Several of you offered meaningful suggestions, which I considered carefully. Almost every comment conveyed a heartfelt concern about the impact of this momentous action. I greatly appreciate all of your input, as it demonstrates that you care about our state’s future. Again, I’ll cover the details about Senate Bill 21 in the next newsletter; however I’ve included a few key items below for your consideration:
For some Homer residents, seeing the back side of the jack-up rig Endeavour will be a welcome sight. For others, it will be regretfully stopped revenue that added to the local economy. Either way, it has spent a long visit at our dock, longer than anyone thought when it arrived. We’ve fielded an inordinate amount [...]
Seward’s Day commemorates the signing of the proposed Alaska purchase treaty by American Secretary of State William Seward and Russian diplomatic minister Edouard de Stoeckl. Coinciding as it does this year with Easter, the commemoration likely will get lost in public consciousness, despite David Strathairn’s effective portrayal of Seward in the blockbuster film “Lincoln.”
That’s unfortunate. Seward is not significant just for Alaska; he was one of the most important political figures in 19th century America.
Strathairn’s rendering of Seward in Spielberg’s film was a bit too good. As Lincoln’s right hand and political lieutenant, Spielberg’s Seward orchestrates the disbursement of money and favors needed to secure the votes to pass the 13th Amendment through Congress, to guarantee the abolition of slavery.
Strathairn is fully convincing as the consummate political apparatchik, directing unsavory operatives and providing deniability. But it’s an incomplete portrait, prejudicial to Seward’s true character and achievement.
Senate passage of Senate Bill 21, Gov. Parnell’s oil tax giveaway, was sealed last summer through the apparent strategy of a Republican-controlled realignment of legislative districts. Kenai Peninsula Republican John Torgerson, who heads up the Kenai Peninsula Borough’s Economic Development District, led the state’s Republican-dominated reapportionment effort.
Despite the defeat of similar legislation last year, SB 21 required only a few oil-friendly seats to assure passage. Senate District O was a chief target. Senate District O was realigned to extend from oil-friendly Kenai and Soldotna on the north to decidedly less oil-friendly Homer to the south. The incumbent was Republican Tom Wagoner. Wagoner was pro-oil but might be described as pro-little oil, favoring Cook Inlet development by the Apaches and Buccaneers. These are multimillion-dollar companies, to be sure, but a drop in the oil barrel compared to giants like ConocoPhillips, BP or mega-giant ExxonMobil, one of the largest corporations in the world.
While it was instructive to read our mayor declare in these pages that Homer is open for business, the descriptive comments made by our town’s putative leader as to our economic future left this reader with many concerns.
To start with, it seems clear that the mayor has not read, much less reflected on, the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) issued by the Homer Economic Development Advisory Commission in February 2011. Otherwise, the picture and emphases she described may have been considerably different. It also appears that the mayor has little more than a superficial understanding of the economic driving forces and demographics of this community or of rapidly changing future trends.
The mayor puts much of the economic future of Homer in a few baskets, namely oil and gas development, harbor related activity and tourism. Nothing too surprising or revelatory about that. If the past is indeed prologue, then we could take some comfort in this picture.
Share knowledge Dedicated hard workers pulled off the South Peninsula Haven House award ceremony March 22. Bravo to the staff of Haven House, its board of directors, and the Women of Distinction committee who produced a fun program. I appreciate being honored with Ingrid Harrald, Katherine Dolma and Kris Holderied, all dedicated to science and [...]
The fate of the shellfish industry in Southeast Alaska appears to be sealed. This fate has comparatively little to do with overfishing or the return of sea otters. It has to do with CO2 and the fact that about 25 percent of CO2, which comes mostly from coal-fired power generation and fossil fueled powered vehicles, gets absorbed by the ocean, resulting in an increase in ocean acidity. This increase negatively affects the calcification process used by shellfish to make shells.
Since there has been no real effort to address this issue by only a few governments in the world, it is probably already too late to save the shellfish industry. The question is when we will lose shellfish, and that is something over which we do have some limited control.
In Health and Social Services Committee last Tuesday we had our first hearing on House Bill 16, drug and alcohol testing for adult public assistance recipients.
The committee considered a substitute version, which introduced several changes to the bill language. The biggest changes included deleting the section which would define the testing procedure in statute and shifting the testing guidelines from randomized to ‘reasonable suspicion.’
Testimony from the public and the Department indicated that the CS was moving in the right direction, but questions were still raised in regards to the constitutionality of required testing and the practicality of implementing the program, especially in our rural areas. This is a delicate issue which will require careful discussion.
“The eagle is a curse to the rest of the animal kingdom and the sooner it is exterminated, the better off the game will be,” an assertion in the Valdez Miner read on April 17, 1920.
At the Baranov Museum in Kodiak for many years a full eagle’s feathered wing stood in a corner of a kitchen pantry, frozen in place for the many historical stories it told. During tours of the museum, school children and tourists learned that eagle wings were popular as brooms and a must-have in many homes on Kodiak Island. A bounty on eagles by the U.S. Territorial government that lasted many years rewarded young and old shooters alike with 50 cents per eagle kill. From 1917 to 1953, about 120,195 eagles were killed this way, according to numbers kept by the Territorial Treasury.
The justification for killing bald eagles were many at the time: they killed fox farm pups, sheep, calves, moose, caribou and hauled off more than their share of salmon, according to lore.
Senate Bill 26 is terrible public policy that drastically alters the sale, exchange, permitting and use of state lands/water. It passed the House under its sister bill, HB77. Obviously, the governor has this on the fast track.
Why, one might ask? Approximately 223,205 people (US Census 2010), or one-third of the total state population, live in unorganized places all across the state. How will this legislation impact their lifestyle and/or livelihoods? Has this been studied? Does city, borough or tribal governments have a role in the appeal process? It doesn’t seem so.