AP NEWS

Alaska tax change group sues over ballot initiative wording

November 18, 2019

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A group seeking changes to Alaska’s oil tax credit system filed a lawsuit against state officials over language describing its initiative.

Vote Yes for Alaska’s Fair Share filed a complaint in Anchorage Superior Court Nov. 14 against Republican Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer and the state Division of Elections, KTVA-TV reported Sunday.

The state is not receiving an equitable share of oil proceeds largely because of a per-barrel deduction for oil companies it believes is overly generous while the state has a large budget deficit, the group said.

Meyer did not properly summarize the group’s ballot initiative known as the Fair Share Act when preparing a ballot title and proposition for the measure, according to the lawsuit.

“The essential purpose of the Summary is to be a true and impartial description of the Fair Share Act, but the Summary advanced by Defendant Meyer is neither,” the complaint said. “These actions by Defendant Meyer undercut the initiative rights of Alaskans and should not be countenanced by the courts.”

The state would not meet or discuss the group’s suggested summary corrections despite its offer to pay for additional printing costs, the complaint said.

Meyer spokeswoman Lauren Gillam said Monday that he would not comment on the pending lawsuit. She referred questions on the lawsuit to the state Department of Law.

The proposed changes under the Fair Share Act proposal include increasing the gross minimum production tax for North Slope oil fields that produce a minimum 40,000 barrels daily.

The ballot initiative also calls for eliminating the $8 per barrel credit starting at $50 per barrel and adds an additional 15% tax on producers’ profits beginning at $50 per barrel of profit, the group said.

“They’re making record profits in Alaska, and that is just fundamentally not fair to the state,” Fair Share spokesman Nate Graham said. “We need to create a system that’s fair to both us and them.”

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Information from: KTVA-TV, http://www.ktva.com