FAIRBANKS — The Alaska Division of Elections has certified a referendum on Gov. Sean Parnell’s oil tax bill for the ballot next year.
Elections Director Gail Fenumiai, in a letter to lead referendum backer Vic Fischer earlier this week, certified that the referendum has met all the requirements necessary to appear on the Aug. 19, 2014, statewide primary election ballot.
The letter confirmed that petitioners across the state gathered 45,664 voter signatures, surpassing the 30,169 signature requirement that was based on the 2012 general election turnout. The group gathered 52,649 signatures, some of which were disqualified in the review process.
Fischer, who is a former state senator and delegate to the Alaska Constitutional Convention, applauded the step in a news release Thursday.
“This is a great victory for Alaskans,” said Fischer, a prime sponsor of the repeal effort. “Alaskans deserve a fair share of the wealth generated from our oil fields. Repealing the giveaway will help ensure that.”
Parnell and a newly elected Republican majority in the Legislature passed Senate Bill 21 earlier this year to cut overall taxation on oil in a bid to reverse decades of faltering production. Opponents, like Fischer, have argued against the bill, saying it gives too much away and contains no guarantees of new production.
If passed, the bill would return Alaska to the Alaska’s Clear and Equitable Share, or ACES, tax, which both Republicans and Democrats agreed needed revisions.
The signature-gathering effort was met with some resistance, especially in Anchorage where there were reports of hecklers attempting to interfere with petitioners.
The Alaska Support Industry Alliance-backed political action committee We Are Alaska launched robocalls and radio ads in Fairbanks opposed to the referendum.
The Division of Elections letter also states that any person who disagrees with Fenumiai’s decision can file a lawsuit in Superior Court within 30 days.
Other initiatives also are in the works for the 2014 primary ballot, with issues including marijuana legalization, minimum wage and the Pebble mine project.
Contact staff writer Matt Buxton at 459-7544 and follow him on Twitter: @FDNMpolitics.