Allen Hippler

GUEST COMMENTARY: Ballot Measure One will hurt investment in our state

The Alaska Chamber serves as the statewide voice of Alaska business, a job we take seriously. Our membership ranges from small, mom-and-pop businesses to large, multinational corporations. The shutdowns and mandates related to COVID-19 have dealt a devastating blow to all of them, with no end in sight. To say it’s tough for anyone to do business in Alaska right now is an understatement. Ballot Measure One will make it worse. Starting a business or making new investments involves taking on risk, a factor that must be managed before any potential investor pulls the trigger on a new venture. Even in a roaring economy, investment is risky. Seemingly solid business plans fail for reasons few could anticipate: market disruptions, trade agreements, and shifting consumer demands are a few examples. Many of these risks fall outside of an individual’s control. The chamber’s focus is on promoting practices that Alaska can control. Public policy is one such area of emphasis. That is precisely why our membership is so strongly opposed to Ballot Measure One. To willingly impose this kind of tax increase on any industry or business at this point would be a devastating choice. Ballot Measure One will set our economy back. We have a long, hard road ahead of us to achieve economic recovery under the best circumstances, and we should not be asked to impose punitive new taxes on Alaska’s largest economic driver. Such a move is foolish, and will hurt everyday Alaskans in the form of lost jobs and decreased business investments in our state. For all the bumper sticker talking points about “fair share” and “our oil,” Ballot Measure One proponents cannot hide from the basic fact that businesses invest where the rules are fair and predictable. Investors have choices, and punitive new taxes will persuade investors to look to more stable areas to deploy their capital. It is not a gamble we will win. Not in good economic times, and especially not now. Additionally, the ballot box is perhaps the worst place to decide complex tax policy. Voters are presented with two, overly simplistic options on Ballot Measure One: Yes, or no. There is no “yes, with amendments” or “no, but maybe once the pandemic is over.” It is an all-or-nothing proposition. The Alaska Legislature is the appropriate venue to take up complex public policy. Recently, the state changed tax regimes with respect to the oil industry; if we wish to once again change the rules, our elected leaders can tackle the issue of oil taxes with all the analysis and data they need to make an informed decision. Alaskans can and should hold them accountable, and participate in the well-defined public process. Ballot Measure One is the wrong idea at the wrong time. It will slow Alaska’s economic recovery, meaning fewer jobs for Alaskans across the state. As an organization focused on creating opportunities for Alaska businesses to succeed, we urge Alaskans to vote no on Ballot Measure One in November. Allen Hippler is the chair of the Alaska Chamber.

Alaska Chamber begins year with new energy for business advocacy

Alaska lawmakers convened in Juneau late last month and the Chamber kicked the session off with face-to-face meetings with the governor, members of the administration, and nearly every legislator. This year’s Chamber team combines fresh energy with some familiar faces. At the top of that list, and leading the Chamber’s efforts, are Kati Capozzi and Allen Hippler. Alaska Chamber President and CEO Kati Capozzi is a career advocate for Alaska business. Capozzi took the helm at the Chamber in 2019. In many ways, assuming leadership of Alaska’s premier business association is a homecoming for Capozzi. She once led the Chamber’s advocacy events and communications before focusing on resource development issues and ballot initiatives. Capozzi brings a statewide network of contacts along with a wealth of regulatory and policy knowledge. Allen Hippler, vice president at Northrim Bank and longtime Alaska Chamber board member, took over as chairman at the Chamber’s annual fall forum last October. Hippler has served as treasurer, on the Executive Committee, and as the Legislative Affairs Committee Chair. Kati Capozzi, President/CEO, Alaska Chamber I love that we start the year with business leaders from across the state converging on Juneau. The challenge this year is to advance business issues with a legislature fraught with how to address the lack of a fiscal plan. Not to mention what should prove to be an eventful election year. But we have the team to do just that. I think the Alaska Chamber will be able to make great strives this year. We have sharp, hardworking legislators on both sides of the aisle and a governor that’s willing to listen to the business community and is bullish on growing the economic pie. We have an Alaska delegation in Washington that is fighting and winning on resource and regulatory issues here at home. No other state is enjoying the federal ‘wins’ like Alaska is right now. I’m excited for 2020. Allen Hippler, Board Chair, Alaska Chamber The Alaska Chamber’s mission is statewide, and we take that mission very seriously. We have a number of meaningful positions that impact every employer in our state. Look at our natural resources, for instance. We’ve been working to ensure that Alaska has the best, most scientifically sound, permitting process in the world. I see the tremendous impact of our natural resources when I visit my family in the Valley. I see it with my friends and previous coworkers in bush Alaska. And I see it with the businesses coming into the bank. Alaska is one of the few states that doesn’t have a personal finance or economic education requirement at the K-12 level. Providing access to financial learning is a business issue, it’s a social welfare issue, and it’s a workforce development issue in every Alaska community. It’s an issue that businesses, educators, families, and legislators can all get behind, and there’s no reason why we can’t get that requirement in place this year. What do I want to accomplish as board chair? I want visibility. Front-of-mind awareness. I want the economic issues that let families live and work in Alaska to be the most discussed topics in the legislature and in the media.” ^ For a complete review of the Alaska Chamber’s 2020 advocacy platform, visit alaskachamber.com
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