Archives for July 2017
By Rep. George Rauscher
House District 9
The legislature voted for the passage of House Bill 111, the oil and gas tax bill. I was a no vote, let me explain why.
Simply put, the bill will raise taxes and add costs to the oil industry, a move that will decrease investment and inevitably make it harder for new oil fields to be developed.
Like the majority of my legislative colleagues, the producers, and Alaskans, I agree that the state could no longer afford to pay out the “Cashable Tax Credits.” But that is not all the bill does.
A fellow legislature referred to the rush to pass this bill as being similar to the famous quote about the passage of federal legislation, “we have to pass the bill so that we can find out what is in it.”
We were asked to return to the Capital as the Senate and the House majorities had negotiated a deal on the final passage of HB 111. But as I read the 24-page document, distributed to legislatures just minutes before we were required to vote, I realized it was against everything I believed in about the State of Alaska being open for business.
Additionally, the bill up for a vote was accompanied by a fiscal note that the administration admitted was about a previous bill version, and partly rushed to get something before legislators. So it is unclear what the fiscal impact of changes made to policy in the bill would have on the current “budget crisis” Alaska is facing, and into the future.
Cashable credits needed to go away, the state couldn’t afford them, and the producers were not getting paid. However, the incentive plan was working and brought new large oil field discoveries, not to mention the two years of increased production and throughput in the Trans Alaska Pipeline.
Eliminating this incentive was a tough call, but the right one. To replace this incentive the bill included a new provision allowing a percentage of Net Operating Losses (NOLs), money spent exploring and building infrastructure, to move forward and be written off once production begins.
The deal established a “hardened floor” which ensures that Alaska receives at least 4 percent of a producer’s gross revenue in Alaska. “Ring fencing” was added to keep the losses claimed isolated to the oil that field alone.
After all that, the bill fell apart for me.
The bill calls for holding the producers to an unattainable time table for recovering the NOLs. The bill will also reduce the value of the NOL by 10 percent annually if the field is not in production within seven years. History shows that it takes an average of 9-12 years to bring a field to production. Plus this reduction in NOLs is contrary to the federal tax structure, further complicating things for the private sector.
New discoveries on the North Slope are the future of the Alaska oil and gas industry (Horseshoe is over 25 miles away from TAPS, and Smith Bay is 100 miles away.) The required permitting alone for the pipelines to connect these fields to TAPS could take seven years to complete.
HB 111 goes on to calculate NOLs for Green Fields (new undeveloped fields) and Brown Fields (developed fields) differently, using separate timetables and rates of decline for both, further complicating our tax system.
The bill establishes a working group to evaluate our oil taxes. When I ran for office I committed to support “stable and predictable taxes” for sustainable resource development. This marks the 7th time in the last 12 years we’ve changed oil and gas tax policy, and then we state that we plan to come up with more changes.
If we want to see investment on the North Slope, then fiscal stability must be established. Moving of the goalposts makes our chances of attracting investment worse with each passing year, and with each new tax structure we adopt.
Remember, the neighbors are already being laid off. The Department of Labor reports that more than 3,100 jobs in the oil industry had been eliminated since 2015.
The future of Alaska lies in new fields producing oil and gas, it is hard for them to find investors because of the ever changing tax regime. I fully supported the elimination of the cashable credits, but it’s the baggage added to the bill that bothered me.
It appears some in government can’t wait to fleece the private sector on every turn. Not me, business needs reasonable, stable and predictable taxes in order flourish and create jobs. This bill does none of these, and I voted no on HB 111 because of that.
Representative George Rauscher represents House District 9, Sutton, Chickaloon, Glacierview, Glennallen, Fort Greely, Delta Junction, Valdez and Whittier.
I have often referred to the American Red Cross as one of the two most helpful websites (www.redcross.org) for disaster preparedness. (The other being FEMA’s website, www.ready.gov). Established in 1881 by Clara Barton, the American Red Cross now boasts over 650 chapters nationwide staffed by more than a million volunteers and 30,000 paid employees. Among the many facets of their mission is “reconnection” after disasters. Helping people find people. Whether displaced by hurricanes, earthquakes or tornadoes, their registry locator system has helped many reconnect with loved ones after an emergency event.
At this moment the Red Cross is on the scene in California where at least two wildfires have burned thousands of acres, forcing many families to leave their homes. Red Cross workers opened shelters and Emergency Response Vehicles are distributing relief supplies in several of the impacted areas. Millions of homes across the country are near woodlands and could someday be in the path of a wildfire. The Red Cross offers tips on what to do before, during and after a wildfire so you can better protect yourself and your loved ones.
Every year thousands take their first aid training and millions carry a card in their wallet attesting to their abilities to apply first aid in an emergency.
Every veteran knows they are always on scene with military personnel helping G.I.s stay connected with their families. One of their little-known services is the Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces program (SAF). In the event of an emergency at home, a call to the American Red Cross (877-272-7337) will guarantee that your military relative will be notified and in some cases, flown home. Often within 24 hours.
The American Red Cross supplies 40% of our nation’s blood to hospitals. They respond to over 70,000 emergencies annually including house and apartment fires, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, hazardous materials spills, transportation accidents and explosions. Working closely with Salvation Army and Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES), they often feed aid workers volunteering for other agencies.
I am an advocate of any organization that is as well prepared and ready to respond in the face of an emergency as the American Red Cross. The training offered by them is always top-notch. Topics offered range from lifeguard classes to first aid to CPR to wilderness and remote first aid, to babysitting and caregiving. Other training will prepare you as a volunteer and will even qualify you as a Red Cross Instructor. It’s all about you becoming a part of the team of first responders our communities will need in the event of a catastrophe. I am a firm believer we are not placed on this planet to just make a living, but to make a difference.
For more information check out www.redcross.org. You will find links to get involved locally and enough information to Get a Kit, Make a Plan, and Be Informed. As always contact me for questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org. Dave Robinson is a retired Postmaster and the author of “Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us,” available on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, and other online booksellers.
Western Company Military Vehicle Historical Society (WCMVHS) supported by Veterans Affairs will be Convoying with approximately 15 personnel and 08-10 vehicles from the Vancouver area to Delta Junction, Alaska this summer during the period 16 July – 08 August.
Our goals are to raise Public Awareness and Remembrance of our Veterans as well as to Commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the Alaska Highway.
We plan to visit several Legions and Communities along our route from Vancouver by displaying our old vehicles and equipment to the Veterans and the General Public. Legions include Clinton, 100 Mile House, Williams Lake, Quesnel, Prince George, Chetwynd, Dawson Creek, Fort St. John, Whitehorse and Delta Junction. Several other Communities include Fort Nelson, Muncho Lake, Watson Lake, Teslin, Haines Junction, Beaver Creek and Delta Junction.
The Club has had extensive Convoy experience over the past several years visiting Legions/Communities throughout British Columbia.
By Robin Schmidt
Social Security Public Affairs Specialist for Alaska
Social Security encourages people to rejoin the workforce when they are able. Ticket to Work is our free and voluntary program that helps people get vocational rehabilitation, training, job referrals, and other employment support services.
This program is for people ages 18 to 64, who are receiving disability benefits, and need support re-entering the workforce or working for the first time. While many disabled individuals are unable to work and may never be able to return to work, we know that some are eager to try working again. Work incentives make it easier to work and still receive health care and cash benefits from Social Security while providing protections if people have to stop working due to a disability.
Social Security works with employment networks to offer beneficiaries access to meaningful employment. Employment networks are organizations and agencies, including state vocational rehabilitation agencies that provide various employment support services. Some services they may help with include résumé writing, interviewing skills, and job leads.
Ticket to Work gives individuals the opportunity to choose from several employment networks. Participants are free to talk with as many employment networks as they want before choosing one. If someone signs an agreement with an employment network, they’ll help the individual develop an employment plan. We will review their progress toward achieving the goals of their employment plan every 12 months. If they are making timely progress in their return to work plan, we will not conduct a medical review of their disability during the time they’re in the program.
Many people have successfully completed the Ticket to Work program. Anyone interested in the Ticket to Work program should call the Ticket to Work Helpline toll-free at 1-866-968-7842 (TTY 1-866-833-2967). More information on the program is available online at www.socialsecurity.gov/work.
Remember, Social Security is with everyone through life’s journey, providing resources that can help people reach their work and retirement goals.
View of Mt. Silvertip from near the Thayer Hut above Castner Glacier.
Photo Courtesy StevenMileyPhotography.com
Mushroom expert Gary Laursen will lecture and lead a workshop on the wild mushrooms of the Interior July 28-30 in Fairbanks.
Participants in the Introduction to Mushrooms of Tanana Region workshop will collect, identify, and learn how to prepare and preserve wild edible mushrooms. Mushrooms will be collected in several walks around Fairbanks and identified. The workshop will also cover the ecology of mushrooms and
Laursen has studied Arctic, sub-Arctic and sub-Antarctic fungi around the world for more than 40 years. He is an adjunct professor for the University of Alaska Fairbanks and teaches mushroom identification classes around the state. Laursen has written several books on fungi, including, most recently, “Alaska’s Mushrooms: A Wide-Ranging Guide,” which he co-authored with Neil McArthur.
The University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service will host the lecture in the Murie Building auditorium at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and the workshop will meet in the district Extension office at 724 27th Ave., in the Fairbanks Community Food Bank Building.
The course will include the lecture from 6 to 9 p.m. July 28 and fieldwork from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 29 and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 30. The fee is $100 for the entire course or $15 for the Friday night lecture only. July 26 is the deadline for signing up for both at http://bit.ly/cesworkshops. Participants are advised to dress for the weather.
For more information, call the Extension district office at (907)474-1530 or contact Fairbanks agent Leslie Shallcross at email@example.com or (907)474-2426