Stevens Calls Out Special Interest Groups

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Jennifer Canfield/KMXT

Alaska Senate President Gary Stevens of Kodiak caused quite a stir last Wednesday. Stevens spoke last week in Anchorage during an event organized by the policy think-tank Commonwealth North. The event was billed as an opportunity for state legislators, representatives and concerned citizens to get together and discuss the key issues of the upcoming legislative session.

He opened by taking to task the authors of the 2011 Alaska Business Report Card, some of who were in attendance.

(Stevens Oil 1 :10 "Thank you for inviting me. Frankly, you’ve got a lot of nerve, I think. I stand before you as a recipient of an F.")

The yearly report is put together by the Alaska Chamber of Commerce, Prosperity Alaska, Resource Development Council for Alaska and Alaska Support Industry Alliance. A website for the report says it’s based on six criteria, including the politician’s position on oil tax reform, which Stevens suspects held the most weight.

(Stevens Oil 2 :12 "All the representatives who got A’s voted for the Governor’s oil tax bill, while those of us who got D’s and F’s either voted against it in the House or in the Senate, like myself, dared to question the bill.")

The language of Governor Sean Parnell’s bill says it would "provide tax incentives and credits for the oil and gas industry." The bill is criticized largely because it doesn’t put any additional requirements on the oil and gas industry to create jobs or increase exploration. Parnell’s bill was introduced during the 2011 legislative session. The House passed it and now it’s left to the Senate to address in the next session which starts o January 17th.

While declaring his "love" for the oil industry, Stevens also warned the audience to not forget the history of Alaska’s relationship with Big Oil, citing the Amerada Hess ruling, the Exxon Valdez oil spill and Bill Allen, the VECO executive found guilty of bribing politicians.

(Stevens Oil 3 :25 "Still the wise person learns from history and remembers our past. We don’t want to be accused again of ‘inexcusable trustfulness.’ We don’t anyone to think that a ‘culture of irresponsibility’ is okay. And we don’t ever want to see our elected politicians bribed to maximize benefits to the industry instead of the people of Alaska. What’s good for the industry may not be good for you."

Stevens’ speech came on the heels of a commentary published on the Alaska Dispatch’s website by Representative Les Gara. Gara criticized the Chamber of Commerce’s report cards by saying they were motivated by a corporate agenda.

We have links to Stevens’ speech, Parnell’s bill, the Chamber of Commerce’s report card and Gara’s commentary all on our website at KMXT dot org.

Audio of Sen. Stevens’ Remarks: http://aksenate.org/27thpress/Stevens_Commonwealth_North.mp4

Transcript of Sen, Stevens’ Remarks: http://media.adn.com/smedia/2011/12/18/13/08/lU3yx.So.7.pdf

2011 Alaska Business Report Card: http://www.alaskabusinessreportcard.com/2011/midtermgrades.html

HB110 History/Action: http://www.legis.state.ak.us/basis/get_bill.asp?bill=HB%20110

Gara’s Commentary: http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/legislative-report-cards-grade-one-twisted-curve

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