Oil tax veto referendum has enough signatures for 2014 ballot

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July 30, 2013


By Alex Murray

JUNEAU, Alaska: Supporters of a veto referendum to repeal the recent overhaul of Alaska's oil production tax scheme have cleared a major hurdle, with the state Division of Elections confirming that enough valid signatures have been submitted to place the measure on the 2014 primary ballot.

In Monday's edition of a daily report by the Division of Elections, 31,673 signatures were found to have qualified in the computer verification stage of the petition process. 30,169 are required for the petition to move forward. Although referendum supporters have effectively won their way onto the ballot, the petition remains in process; the more than 12,000 signatures that did not qualify during computer verification must be checked manually, after which Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell (R) will have 60 days to certify the petition. The Division hopes to complete verification by the end of August.[1][2][3]

The Alaska Oil Tax Cuts Veto Referendum would reverse the changes made by Senate Bill 21, which eliminated the Palin-era ACES system, which taxed oil producers progressively based on output. In its place is an increased base rate with allowances and other incentives effectively lowering the overall tax rate. Supporters including Gov. Sean Parnell (R) have argued that the bill was needed to attract new and increased production in the state, while opponents such as Rep. Les Gara (D) likened the bill to a handout to oil producers with little intent to expand production in Alaska as a direct result. The new tax scheme will take effect on January 1, 2014.[3][4]

Should the referendum be certified, it will only be the fourth in the state's history to be placed on the ballot. Referendums on voter pre-registration, legislators' compensation, and use of airplanes in wolf hunting appeared in 1968, 1976, and 2000, respectively.[2]

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