Oil tax Repeal Group Turns In More Than 50,000 Signatures

Supporters of the referendum gather in Anchorage. Photo courtesy of Vote Yes – Repeal the Giveaway Facebook page.
Supporters of the referendum gather in Anchorage. Photo courtesy of Vote Yes – Repeal the Giveaway Facebook page.

Singing the Alaska Flag Song, supporters of a referendum to repeal the state’s new oil tax turned in more than 51,000 signatures on Saturday to the Division of Elections Anchorage office.

Director Gail Fenumiai says they filled nearly 900 petition booklets. Organizers far exceeded the 30,169 signatures they needed, which is equivalent to 10 percent of those who voted in the last general election.

“But within that 10 percent they have to have signatures from at least 30 of the 40 house districts and 30 of the 40 house districts have to have signatures equal to 7 percent of those that voted in the previous general election.”

For example, more than 5,800 signatures were collected in Juneau’s two house districts, nearly five times the number needed.

Now the Elections Division begins the task of matching the signatures with voter registration rolls for the 40 house districts to be sure all are qualified voters.

“We’ll take the books starting in numerical order, entering the information page by page, line by line as it appears in the books into our voter registration system, r un computer match nightly and the first round of qualification will be done via the computer; those that could match perfectly based on what was printed in the books and what’s on our voter registration system. Following that we’ll go back and do a manual search of those that the computer was not able to qualify.”

Fenumiai says the elections division will go through the signatures about three times and has 60 days to finish the process.

Organizers had 74 days to collect the signatures for the “Vote Yes — Repeal the Giveaway” referendum, which would roll back Senate Bill 21 passed in April by the legislature. The referendum application was filed almost immediately.

The so-called More Alaska Production Act was signed by Governor Sean Parnell on May 21st – three legislative sessions after Parnell introduced the initial bill to reduce oil taxes in the hope of driving new production.

Critics say there’s no guarantee – and the state will lose billions of dollars in revenue before any new oil flows down the Trans-Alaska pipeline.

If the referendum is certified, the repeal will appear on the August 2014 primary election ballot.

Rosemarie Alexander is a reporter at KTOO in Juneau.

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