MARCH 18, 2016
Representing District 17:
Midtown, University, and East Anchorage
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State Capitol Bldg, Room 430
Juneau, AK 99801
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HB 247 & the Budget
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Rep. Josephson meets with NEA-Alaska
Last Friday the House passed the Operating Budget over to the Senate ending the “24 hour rule” that was put in effect by HCR23. That also means that the limitations on what bills could be heard in committee was lifted and, as a result, some of my committees heard non-revenue bills for the first time since February 8th.
Just because the limitations were lifted did not mean that just any bill would be heard. Many of the bills that we heard in the committees I sat on still had revenue implications. In Labor and Commerce we heard a bill that would eliminate the Worker’s Compensation Review Board saving the Department over $400,000 per year, as well as a bill that would implement the ABLE Act in Alaska allowing disabled individuals to create a savings account that would be tax exempt so that they could save up and make important purchases such as for training, transportation, or home improvements to meet their needs.
The budget is still the major issue facing the legislature. The House and Senate have each passed a budget and we are now waiting for the conference committees to be appointed. The 90-day session is quickly coming to an end and there is still much to do. One thing that the legislature still has to do is address oil and gas tax credits and there is some movement happening there.
HB 247 (Oil and Gas Tax Credits)
The focus of the House Resource Committee is still squarely on HB 247, Governor Walker’s oil and gas tax credit legislation. The Committee will introduce a committee substitute Saturday and I would expect a vote to occur sometime next week.
I have concerns (concerns I voiced in this recent ADN article) that the rewrite will be too favorable to the industry and remove some of the more substantive fixes to our unsustainable credit system. Oil and gas credits have ballooned to become the third largest item in our budget behind only Education and Health & Social Services. The bill, as written by the Walker Administration, would save the state $500 million this year. To give you some perspective, the Governor’s income tax plan would generate $200 million. That means if any tax plan or Permanent Fund plan is implemented without real changes to this system, then your tax dollars would go to subsidize an industry that already is enjoying one of the most generous tax system in the world.
The House Resource committee closed out public testimony on Monday, so if you want to comment on the changes it will have to wait until House Finance holds testimony. I will send out an announcement once we know when those dates will be.
As always, please call or email with any thoughts, ideas, or concerns.
I Answer to You!
Representative Andy Josephson
State Capitol Bldg., Room 430