Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell has certified a referendum seeking to repeal the oil tax reform bill passed by the Legislature this year, leaving supporters with less than three months to gather enough signatures to put it on the state’s 2014 primary ballot.
Members of the group Vote Yes, Repeal The Giveaway, which includes elder Alaska statesman Vic Fischer and former Alaska First Lady Bella Hammond, submitted their referendum to stop Senate Bill 21 one week ago to Treadwell’s office in Downtown Anchorage’s Atwood Building. Under state law, Treadwell had seven days to certify the measure and print booklets describing its contents.
In a letter to Fischer, Treadwell says the state Division of Elections found that 352 of the 370 signatures submitted as sponsors were those of qualified voters. In addition, state Attorney General Michael Geraghty’s office examined the referendum at Treadwell's request and found it legally qualified for certification.
“The Department of Law concluded that the proposed bill is in the proper form and therefore recommends that I certify this initiative application,” Treadwell wrote.
Backers of the referendum say SB21, Gov. Sean Parnell’s measure to lower taxes on the oil industry in a bid to spur development, is unconstitutional because it fails to properly manage the state’s oil wealth for the maximum benefit of its people. Supporters, including the Alaska Oil and Gas Association, say repealing SB21 so soon after its passage would be premature and undermine oil companies’ confidence in Alaska’s investment climate.
The Legislature’s 2013 session, during which SB21 was approved, adjourned April 14. Under state law, supporters have three months from that date to gather signatures equal to at least 10 percent of people who voted in Alaska’s 2012 general elections -- at least 30,169 signatures, according to Treadwell’s office.
Contact Chris Klint