Andrew Jensen

AJOC EDITORIAL: McConnell, GOP should have listened to Murkowski

The only conclusion that can be drawn from watching D.C. Republicans vomit all over themselves in their pathetic efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare is that they were just as surprised as Democrats when Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton.

After spending the past seven years campaigning and fundraising on promises to scrap the widely unpopular law — and being rewarded with total control of all three branches of government — the GOP has found out what it’s like to be the dog that catches the car.

AJOC EDITORIAL: House gambit a waste of everyone’s time

If the House Democrats keep up these futile political gestures, someday they may grow up to be Congressional Republicans.

The latest last-second nonsense from the Democrats managed to top their ridiculous vote in June when they introduced — and approved with the help of half the Republican caucus — a $2,200 PFD as they stuffed the operating budget into the capital budget bill before adjourning the first special session called by Gov. Bill Walker.

AJOC EDITORIAL: 75 million reasons SB 21 is working

What’s been obvious for several months became official on June 30.

The 2017 fiscal year ended with a final average of 528,484 barrels per day of production on the North Slope.

That is a 2.6 percent increase versus the 514,900 barrels per day last fiscal year, or virtually identical to the 2016 increase in production from 501,500 barrels per day in 2015.

To put this in perspective, the last time the state saw consecutive years of production increases was in 1987-88 when North Slope production peaked at more than 2.1 million barrels per day.

AJOC EDITORIAL: Crocodile tears for White House press corps

The liberals with bylines in the White House press corps are in a snit about receiving their overdue comeuppance from an administration that has decided to fight back.

At the top of the latest outrage list from the press is the decision to prohibit video cameras at a few of the daily presidential briefings, which led to the priceless audio of CNN’s Jim Acosta channeling his inner Mortimer Duke from the end of the movie “Trading Places” by yelling at Press Secretary Sean Spicer to turn the machines back on.

AJOC EDITORIAL: Democrats destroying the village to save it

Democrats in Juneau deserve credit for at least one thing: what they lack in good ideas they more than make up for in chutzpah.

Now 10 days from a government shutdown at the time of this writing, the legislative session has become a monkey fight inside a clown car driving into a dumpster fire.

AJOC EDITORIAL: House Majority has lost. They just don’t know it yet.

Here’s hoping House Speaker Bryce Edgmon hasn’t gotten too attached to his gavel.

The once high-riding Democrat-led Majority in the House had a stake driven through its heart on June 5 when it was abandoned by Gov. Bill Walker, its one-time ally on raising oil taxes and bringing back a state income tax.

AJOC EDITORIAL: The right man for Alaska

In a room full of the state’s business leaders dressed in sport coats and summer dresses, the visiting guest of honor looked and sounded as Alaskan as any of them.

Decked out in khaki pants and short sleeves, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, a retired Navy SEAL and former congressman for Montana, spoke passionately about President Donald Trump’s vision of American energy policy that goes beyond independence and into “dominance.”

AJOC EDITORIAL: The ‘What, me worry?’ Legislature

By the time House and Senate members return to Juneau after Memorial Day weekend, they will have burned through 14 days of a 30-day special session without much, if anything, to show for it.

Two days later, pink slips will go out to virtually every state worker with the possible exception of troopers, corrections officers and Pioneer Home employees.

If only they could be sent to the 60 legislators as well.

Both bodies have passed operating budgets as well as bills to use Permanent Fund earnings and end the state’s cashable oil tax credit program.

AJOC EDITORIAL: Real jobs beat theoretical jobs

It wasn’t a surprise that last week’s column drew a response from self-appointed PFD guru Brad Keithley.

AJOC EDITORIAL: Jobs drive the economy, not the PFD

The PFD is not a suicide pact.

The Alaska House and Senate are now engaged in a high-stakes game of chicken as the session has gone into overtime with less than 30 days to go before the mandated adjournment.

On one side is the Senate arguing it is protecting pocketbooks the most, while the House has taken the position of picking the most pockets.

At the center of it all is the Permanent Fund dividend.

The Senate would cap it at $1,000 for three years; the House at $1,250 for two.

AJOC EDITORIAL: Democrats reach peak self-parody

It was Alaska House Majority Leader Chris Tuck for the win during a recent episode of “Democrats Say the Darndest Things.”

Amid the debate on the House floor April 10 over the oil tax policy rewrite hastily introduced and passed within three days by a single vote, the Anchorage Democrat uttered the most fallacious argument among the many offered by his cohort.

First the runners-up.

There was Rep. Scott Kawasaki, D-Fairbanks, describing 2016 Alaska profits of $85 million by BP and $265 million by ConocoPhillips as “gigantic.”

Colorado firm buys GCI for $1.12 billion

It was a good day to be a shareholder in General Communication Inc.

Shares of the Anchorage-based telecom leapt 62 percent, from $20.56 to close at $33.39, after a deal was announced April 4 to sell a controlling interest to Colorado-based Liberty Interactive Corp. for $1.12 billion that included a huge premium on existing shares.

The deal will pay existing GCI shareholders $32.50 per share; the company’s stock has traded between $12 and $20 over the previous year.

AJOC EDITORIAL: Gara strikes out over tax rates

After years of debate and endless hearings on the subject, it’s remarkable at this late date that Dan Seckers still had to teach a chapter out of “Tax Policy for Dummies” at the March 22 meeting of the House Finance Committee.

The tax counsel for ExxonMobil actually had to explain the difference between a statutory tax rate and an effective tax rate to Finance Vice Chair Les Gara, D-Anchorage, in a lengthy exchange that descended into the surreal from the sheer remedial nature of it.

AJOC EDITORIAL: House Resources tells Armstrong thanks for nothing

The first time Bill Armstrong met former Gov. Sean Parnell several years back he pointed at a map of the North Slope and told him where he intended to find a huge amount of oil.

A confident Texas wildcatter is about as uncommon as a member of the House Majority that wants to raise taxes on the oil industry, but only one of them is actually good for Alaska.

As information has trickled out over the years since Armstrong and his former majority partner Repsol began exploring, he has been proven more and more right.

AJOC EDITORIAL: No sauce for the gander at House Resources

As Ron Burgundy may say, “That escalated quickly.”

Things went sideways not long after House Resources Committee Co-Chair Garen Tarr, D-Anchorage, began a Feb. 22 hearing that was, in her words, to hear from the state’s “industry partners” about the oil tax increases proposed in House Bill 111 introduced by her and her fellow Democrats on the body.

Less than six minutes later, Tarr put the smack down on the lead representative of the state’s partners, Alaska Oil and Gas Association President Kara Moriarty.

AJOC EDITORIAL: Overtaxing is as bad as overfishing

Dating back to before statehood, Alaskans know that overfishing is a bad thing.

Stopping overfishing of salmon and regaining control of the resource was in fact one of the driving forces in the effort to become a state.

What we know about sustainability of our vast fisheries resources is worth applying to yet another debate over another immense asset — our oil — and the means by which that resource is taxed.

AJOC EDITORIAL: The discoveries that almost didn’t happen

We aren’t hearing much from the opponents of the 2013 oil tax reform lately.

Facts tend to get in the way of rhetorical hyperbole, and it appears that reality has finally caught up with Democrats and Gov. Bill Walker, who collectively agitated for the repeal Senate Bill 21 in a 2014 voter referendum.

Losing that fight didn’t end the debate, however.

Nor did the undisputed evidence from Walker’s own Revenue Department that SB 21 was bringing in more money than the previous system as prices started to slide late in 2014.

AJOC EDITORIAL: Production forecast leaves room for pleasant surprise

A brutal year in the Alaska oil patch ended on a positive note as calendar year 2016 followed the fiscal year trend with an increase in North Slope production.

Amid the worst price environment since the late 1990s resulting in thousands of layoffs for the oil industry, production grew in the fiscal year ended June 30 and for the calendar year ended Dec. 31.

AJOC EDITORIAL: Obama keeps adding to Trump’s ‘undo’ list

Not unlike an evicted renter who plugs the toilets and punches holes in the drywall in a petulant rage against the homeowner, President Barack Obama appears intent on causing as much damage as possible before he’s finally forced to exit the White House on Jan. 20.

AJOC EDITORIAL: A Christmas wish list for 2017

The next year could be even wilder than 2016, if that’s possible.

In less than a month, Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States and the Alaska Legislature will convene in Juneau for its last serious crack at addressing the state’s burgeoning budget deficits.

It’s almost appropriate that one of Gov. Bill Walker’s last acts of the year was to kill the Juneau Access Project, because the Legislature has run out of road to kick the can.

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