The second session of the 27th Alaska Legislature kicked off last week. Senate President Gary Stevens of Kodiak said the top issues will be the items that caused so many problems in the legislature last year.
The effort to save the Coastal Management Program passed the senate, but failed in the house. Meanwhile the governor’s plan to reduce the tax on oil companies by up to $2 billion a year passed the state house, but went nowhere in the senate.
— (Stevens 1 43 sec "You know I think we all realize … forgive in taxes.")
Stevens said the issue the senate majority had with the tax giveaway is there was no guarantee in the governor’s bill that the oil companies will respond with more exploration or development.
As far as coastal management goes, Stevens thinks the initiative process the Alaska Sea Party has initiated will be more successful than waiting for the house to find enough votes.
— (Stevens 2 30 sec "I think we did all we could … headed in the right direction on that.")
Another issue Stevens says the senate is working on is trying to pay down the unfunded liability in the state and school employee retirement systems, known as PERS and TERS.
— (Stevens 3 30 sec "We own, now it’s increased … a pretty remarkable thing.")
Stevens, never a fan of the shortened 90-day legislative sessions that voters instituted several years ago, last year proposed to have staggered sessions, alternating between 90 days one year and 120 days the next, but he is no longer pursuing it.
— (Stevens 4 39 sec "That’s right, I have dropped it … will not happen this year.")
Stevens says the North Slope natural gas line plan is stalled because of the low prices for the product in the Lower 48. He said he doesn’t see a pipeline through Canada being built any time soon, however others are exploring a plan to bring gas to tidewater and ship it overseas as liquefied natural gas, or LNG.