The dominant question for next year’s legislative session is whether the Senate will approve Governor Parnell’s bill to lower taxes on oil production. The House passed the measure on a 22 to 16 vote in this year’s session. But the Senate refused to consider it. A survey released Friday by the Associated Press shows the Senate is divided – but it’s too early to predict the outcome. Only 11 of the state’s 20 senators responded to the survey, and only one of them, Senator Linda Menard, said she would vote to reduce the tax, None of the other 10 respondents endorsed the governor’s plan, although six of them said the petroleum tax does need some sort of change.
The Senate is doing basic research prior to the session to present facts for members to consider before voting. For example, the Finance Committee has commissioned a study of labor practices and job functions on the North Slope to determine if they are related to oil production or maintenance. That report is due for release later this month. The session begins in Juneau on Jan. 17.