ANCHORAGE - It's week two of the legislative session in Juneau, and the emphasis on energy-related issues continues.
The Republican majority in the Senate and the Democratic minority in the House both took questions from reporters, most of them revolving around oil and gas issues.
It’s early in the 90-day session, but a little bit of sparring is under way. Senate Republicans focused on their committee process. They noted that the new committee on through-put in the trans-Alaska oil pipeline will be the first to hear Governor Parnell's bill for a big cut in oil production taxes.
Committee Chair Peter Micciche of Soldotna, a new senator, says it's an issue that affects virtually everything. "Alaska’s in the oil business. Very important for us to remember that. So it's in our best interest, everyone that enjoys driving on our roads, that likes being in our schools, that likes all the things that the university system has to offer, public safety, all of those issues, if you're involved in enjoying those benefits, oil production is important to you."
House Democrats, meanwhile, were caustic in their description of the governor's bill, which they said is even worse than the one stymied the past two sessions by the former bipartisan majority in the Senate.
"This governor's oil tax, the new one, is the biggest giveaway yet,” said House Minority Leader Beth Kerttula, D-Juneau. “We've done some work on it, and it presents at high prices the most frightening scenario that we've seen yet."
Democrats object to the governor's proposal to eliminate the progressive feature of the tax, which dramatically increases the percentage of the state's take at high oil prices.
They also don't like his cutback on tax credits for exploration and development.