JUNEAU, Alaska — On Sunday night, lawmakers in the Alaska House and Senate finished 90 days of work right before midnight on the final day of the legislative session.
“I look forward to being able to tell my kids years from now, that I was a part of the legislature that did the things that we did in this session,” said House Majority Leader Rep. Lance Pruitt, R-Anchorage.
Those things include passing Senate Bill 21, an oil tax reform bill introduced by Governor Sean Parnell early in the session. Supporters say it will stem decline in the pipeline, which is directly contributing to Alaska’s revenue woes.
Similar legislation stalled in the Senate last year, Democrat Bill Wielechowski was a part of the Senate Majority in the 27th Legislature. This year, he’s in the Minority, where his colleagues fought an uphill battle to reach a compromise on oil tax reform.
"Our oil tax bill didn't get a single hearing in the TAPS throughput committee, didn't get a single hearing in this body," said Sen. Bill Wielechowski, D-Anchorage. "We proposed it, we offered it, they wouldn't even give it a hearing.”
Critics say the oil tax bill passed by the Legislature Sunday give too much of Alaska’s oil wealth away to the industry. Members of the Republican Majority say energy issues have stalled in the legislature for much too long.
"The people have expresses pretty clearly what their desire is, the consequences for not taking action are also very clear,” said Rep. Dan Saddler, R-Eagle River.
With a dozen new faces in the legislature this year, the Republican lead majority pushed through a plan to ship gas to Fairbanks, and a bill to construct a natural gas pipeline originating in the North Slope and terminating in Southcentral Alaska.
Other major pieces of legislation that are heading to the Governor’s desk include a bill creating state agency performance reviews and a budget, and a budget for Fiscal Year 2014 that the Majority says came in less than $87 million than the Governor’s proposal.
Still, Democrats were left wondering if the increased work load this session would be producing incomplete legislation.
“This rush to push bills out, is really I think the most alarming part of the entire session," said Rep. Scott Kawasaki, D-Fairbanks.
The legislature reconvenes January 21st, 2014.