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Oil tax bill support group to focus on legislative race

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Posted: Tuesday, July 30, 2013 12:05 am

FAIRBANKS — The referendum on Gov. Sean Parnell’s oil tax bill has passed the threshold to make an appearance on the 2014 ballot, but the group that campaigned against it during the signature drive won’t be involved.

The Alaska Support Industry Alliance President Rebecca Logan said the group’s political arm, We Are Alaska, does not plan to be involved once the referendum is officially on the ballot. It will, instead, focus on legislative races.

“There are other people who can do that if they feel like it,” she said, “but that’s a lot more money than we have. It’s going to be millions of dollars.”

By all accounts, it will be a big-money race with hundreds of millions of dollars of taxes at stake. There also could be three more ballot initiatives — legalizing marijuana, upping minimum wage and dealing with Pebble Mine — crowding the ballot.

“Those issues are huge, and when you try to think about the dynamic of who it’ll bring out it’ll be hilarious,” Logan said. “There are people who are a lot smarter than I and who have a lot more money than I do who can handle it.”  

We Are Alaska, Logan said, will focus its efforts and funding to the legislative races, which will include more than 30 seats, the governor’s race and the U.S. Senate race.

During the 90-day signature gathering process, We Are Alaska had paid for radio ads and a Fairbanks-area automated call voiced by Rep. Steve Thompson, R-Fairbanks, leading up to the mid-July deadline for petition backers to gather 30,169 signatures.

But Logan said We Are Alaska won’t go silent on the issue of oil taxes. Instead of campaigning directly against the referendum, she said We Are Alaska and the Alliance will work on showing how the governor’s oil tax bill is improving production and creating jobs in Alaska.

“We have the best story to tell,” she said. “Here’s what we know what is happening, we already know of two of our member companies are moving the work they in the Lower 48 to work up here. We just want to tell that story.”

Logan said that likely won’t be through any advertisements, but through public meetings, letters to the editor and other forms of communication.

Logan said the We Are Alaska political group relies solely on funds from the Alliance, which as a nonprofit is not required to disclose its funding sources. Logan said that most of the money comes from membership dues and less than a third comes from event income.

The referendum backers turned in more than 50,000 signatures. On Monday, the Division of elections had reviewed 43,000 signatures and found 31,673 were qualified by computer, clearing the statutory threshold to make an appearance on the 2014 primary ballot.

Contact staff writer Matt Buxton at 459-7544 and follow him on Twitter: @FDNMpolitics.

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