With hedging statements, Alaska lawmakers say they’re close on oil and gas compromise

Sen. Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage, at a Senate majority press availability in January. She says she believes she’s reached an agreement with Rep. Geran Tarr, D-Anchorage, on a bill to end tax credits for oil and gas companies that can be traded for cash. (Photo by Skip Gray/360 North)

State lawmakers say they’re close to an agreement on a bill to end tax credits for oil and gas companies that can be traded for cash.

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Through Thursday, the House and Senate couldn’t agree on how to replace cash credits.

Anchorage Democratic Rep. Geran Tarr and Anchorage Republican Sen. Cathy Giessel have been the lead negotiators in talks. They’re the chairs of their respective chambers’ resources committees.

Giessel said the negotiations have progressed.

“I believe we have come to an agreement. We’re still working out details, but I feel very optimistic,” Giesell said. “The negotiations have been challenging, but very productive. I have appreciated working with Representative Tarr and the communication that we’ve had.”

Anchorage Democratic Rep. Andy Josephson also said the talks have been positive. He said it appears there’s going to be an agreement in Juneau.

“There’s always some hesitancy about whether this is really going to happen,” Josephson said. “It appears that it might, and that’s why I flew here and that’s why I think by tomorrow morning there should be close to 60 legislators in town.”

Neither side said what the details of the agreement are. Senators have sought to maintain oil and gas companies’ ability to use losses to reduce their future taxes. House members want companies to pay more in taxes.

Both chambers are scheduled to meet on Saturday morning. The second special session must end by midnight on Saturday.