GUEST COMMENTARY: More investment, not more taxes, will bring more oil

There’s new math, old math and just plain crazy math, which best describes the latest formula from Sens. Berta Gardner and Tom Begich to close our fiscal gap in part by raising taxes on oil and gas a seventh time in 12 years.

The Bookworm Sez: Who owns your ideas?

As a kid, what was your favorite toy?

You can probably remember it instantly: the thing you couldn’t bear to leave at home, the doll you spent hours with, the toy truck that road-tripped your imagination. Just thinking of it gives you a warm feeling and a wistful smile, but in “You Don’t Own Me” by Orly Lobel, you’ll read about two toy companies that weren’t playin’.

Years after it happened, Carter Bryant couldn’t tell you what spurred him to think the way he did that sunny afternoon.

Mixed reaction to AK LNG-China letter

Gov. Bill Walker and his gasline team touted an agreement signed Nov. 8 with three Chinese mega-corporations as the largest step the state has ever taken towards finally putting together a North Slope natural gas project.

After a few days to digest the situation, legislators’ reaction has been more subdued.

ConocoPhillips plans for busy exploration season

It’s going to be a busy winter for ConocoPhillips.

The company that has led exploration into the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska west of the existing North Slope oil fields is heading back into the federal lands to drill four more greenfield wells early in 2018, according to spokeswoman Natalie Lowman.

Marijuana taxes near total for alcohol; testing under scrutiny

So far this year, Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office investigations show more notices of violations were handed out to bars than to marijuana operations by a count of 57 to 44.

Tax revenue from marijuana operations this year through October is $1.5 million, while alcohol tax generated $2.2 million. Budgets for each segment for AMCO in 2017 came to $1.6 million for alcohol and $1.2 million for marijuana.

Unpaid tax credits, logistical issues slow Inlet producers

A pair of small companies working in Cook Inlet are trying to overcome funding shortfalls stemming from the State of Alaska not yet making good on promised tax credit refunds.

Furie Operating Alaska and BlueCrest Energy, both Texas-based independents, had to interrupt their 2017 work plans because expected tax credit repayments from the state did not come through.

Brooks Range Petroleum seeks more time as Mustang delayed again

Brooks Range Petroleum Corp. leaders are asking state regulators for another year to bring their small and long-delayed North Slope oil project to fruition.

Bart Armfield, CEO of Anchorage-based Brooks Range wrote in the 2018 plan of development document for the company’s Mustang oil project submitted to the Division of Oil and Gas Oct. 23 that first oil is not expected now until early 2019.

The 2017 plan, submitted to and approved by the division last fall, pegged first production for this December. According to what Armfield wrote, that isn’t close to happening.

GCI reports $9M loss in 3Q; gets OK for Liberty merger

General Communications Inc. posted a net loss of $9 million in third quarter as subscriber declines continue in cable TV, data and wireless customers.

With business revenue nearly flat, the $5 million decline in consumer revenue year-over-year was roughly equal to the overall decline from $236.6 million to $231.2 million in total revenue in the third quarter.

GOP begins advancing tax bill with insurance mandate repeal

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans began pushing a broad tax cut for businesses and many individuals through the Senate Finance Committee on Nov. 15, a measure complicated by a late addition — repeal of the Affordable Care Act requirement that Americans get insurance coverage.

Erasing the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate provided Republicans with more money that they used to make some tax breaks for people modestly more generous. But it raised questions about whether it might prompt some moderate GOP senators to back away from the measure.

House keeps special session alive after Senate calls it quits

The Alaska House isn't giving up on the special legislative session, even though the Senate has called it quits.

The House majority coalition on Monday announced plans to hold technical sessions until the special session ends Nov. 21.

The House plans for the two Juneau members to preside over the technical sessions, for which attendance isn't mandatory, to keep the special session alive. That will force the Senate to hold similar sessions since one body can't adjourn without the other.

Special sessions can last up to 30 days, and Nov. 21 would be the 30th day.

Alaska Senate adjourns session after passing crime bill

The Alaska Senate brushed off constitutional concerns and approved a crime bill Friday, but sidestepped taxes when ending the special legislative session.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska warned lawmakers that a provision of the crime bill, passed by the House this week, would make presumptive sentence ranges for first-time Class C and Class B felonies the same.

Port gets new name, but problems remain

The Port of Anchorage is no more.

No, it did not slough off into Cook Inlet overnight, though parts of it have.

Rather, the Anchorage Assembly changed its name to the Port of Alaska on Oct. 24, a gesture intended to emphasize the importance of the ailing infrastructure to all of Alaska, not just its largest city.

Regardless of the name, the price tag to keep it in service for the next 75 years remains at upwards of $700 million.

Steve Ribuffo

Walker, AGDC sign gasline agreement with 3 China cos.

Gov. Bill Walker’s administration announced a big step forward for the $40 billion Alaska LNG Project late Wednesday in the form of a multi-level agreement with three Chinese mega-corporations to advance the project.

President Donald Trump and China President Xi Jinping attended the signing of the joint development agreement in Beijing, according to a press release from the governor’s office.

Walker said there is still work to be done before a final investment decision is reached but the agreement has the five key players to make the trans-Alaska gasline project go.

House sends crime bill back to Senate; budget hearings commence

The House made headway Nov. 7 on both of the agenda items on Gov. Bill Walker’s special session call

However, there still does not appear to be any interest from the Republican-led Senate Majority in approving the governor’s proposed employment tax, or any tax for that matter.

In the early morning hours of Nov. 7 the House passed Senate Bill 54 by a 32-8 vote with a bipartisan group of Fairbanks and Matanuska-Susitna area representatives voting against it after long days of floor sessions throughout the weekend.

Movers and Shakers for Nov. 12

Onsite consumption tops agenda for marijuana board

Proponents of legalizing public establishments for marijuana consumption are hoping the third time is a charm.

Onsite consumption leads the action agenda for the Nov. 14-15 Alaska Marijuana Control Board meeting in Anchorage at the Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center.

AJOC EDITORIAL: Trump administration breathes life into Alaska

A year ago to the day from this writing, Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in a political upset for the ages that both Democrats and Republicans are still trying to come to grips with.

‘It’s hard to be bored’: Middle-school girls get taste of engineering

Kaitlyn Payne didn’t anticipate having a career as an ExxonMobil environmental engineer.

She never pictured an engineer’s job could entail detecting polar bears by radar or counting caribou population herds in Alaska via their “spectral signature.” That’s a new technology that avoids using more intrusive helicopter and airplane census.

Based on the size of the pixels, Payne tracks caribou populations counting calves versus adults.

GUEST COMMENTARY: Alaskans trapped in special session time warp

Alaskans could be forgiven for feeling like Phil Connors, the TV weatherman played by Bill Murray in the movie Groundhog Day, when it comes to the state’s response to the ongoing budget crisis.

The Legislature is once again back in session to consider Gov. Bill Walker’s proposal to impose a 1.5 percent tax on the wages of Alaskans earning $75,000 or more a year.

Sound familiar?

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