100 Years of Alaska's Legislature
"From Territorial Days to Today"

2011 - 2012

Juneau, Alaska

27th State Legislature

Oil Tax Debate


The Great Oil Tax Debate

When the 27th Legislature reconvened in 2012, all eyes were trained on the best means to increase oil production and decrease statewide energy costs. To this end, lawmakers provided additional support for the state's energy assistance program to help rural communities with exorbitant fuel prices; reauthorized renewable energy grants for 10 years; and added $25 million to the capital budget for renewable energy projects, mostly in small rural communities. The Legislature passed a $3.4 billion capital budget and, on the last day of the regular session, a $9.7 billion operating budget.

The 27th Legislature adjourned, however, with Governor Parnell's oil tax revision bill stalled in the Senate amid divided opinions on how best to proceed. The Governor called a special session to continue work on his proposal to change the oil production tax regime; to consider creating an instate gasline development corporation; and to address a sex crimes and human trafficking bill. After making short work of approving the latter, lawmakers turned to the thorny issues that had stalled in the regular session. After several days of significant criticism, even from would-be allies, the Governor, in an unprecedented move, withdrew his tax rollback proposal from consideration. The Senate adjourned, leaving the instate gasline bill unaddressed. After lengthy caucus considerations, the House also adjourned.

Other legislative focal points included the following:

  • The Legislature created the Alaska Arctic Policy Commission to develop an Arctic policy for the state and to produce a strategy for its implementation.
  • Coastal Zone Management re-authorization legislation failed to pass during both 2011 and 2012, leaving Alaska the only coastal state without such a program.
  • The Legislature created an endowment fund for higher education to be capitalized with $400 million; the bill included a balance of funding for performance-based scholarships and needs-based grants.
  • In the end-of-session flurry, lawmakers combined four bills into one to provide oil incentives for exploration in remote basins, subsidies for construction of above-ground liquefied natural gas storage, help for high-tech startups, and a 10-year extension of the film tax credit program.

Beyond the Legislature

A tsunami strikes Japan, killing thousands and causing a nuclear crisis when waves destroy a cooling system at a nuclear power plant.

President Obama announces the death of Osama bin Laden.

The Occupy Wall Street protest begins September 17, 2011, in New York City and spreads across the country and abroad, even to one woman's "Occupy the Tundra" in Bethel, Alaska.

Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi is killed, putting an end to the Libyan Civil War. The "Arab Spring" also includes uprisings in Tunisia, Libya, and Syria.

Mike Chenault

Gary Stevens