The oil tax debate isn't going away anytime soon. Lawmakers are still trying to decide if companies on the North Slope should get a break.
And this late-summer they're trying to arm themselves with some better data for the next legislative session.
When they left Juneau at the end of this past session, senators who blocked the tax break bill said they needed to do more research over their summer break. Well that's what brings them to Fairbanks and Anchorage this week.
The Senate Labor and Commerce Committee is calling together companies that work on the Slope and asking them why so many of the men and women they employ don't even live in Alaska.
That's been one of the holdups with House Bill 110, the tax cuts bill. Senate leaders say they don't want to give companies a break in return for more jobs, if those jobs are just going to go to folks living in the lower 48.
But those Alaska companies say they're in a tough spot too.
“Problem is, contractors we're dealing with are playing on an uneven playing field,” testified Jay Quakenbush, president of the Fairbanks Building and Construction Trades Council, “it's grossly tilted to companies from other states who pay substandard wages and usually no benefits to their workers.”
“We all know that if the North Slope was exploring and producing new oil and gas we would not be here today discussing out of state hire,” said Karl Gohlke, with Frontier Supply Co.
Business owners also testified that much of the work is dedicated to keeping existing, in some cases, aging wells flowing.
Lawmakers are picking up and heading down to Anchorage, to continue the discussion Thursday at 1:30 pm.
It's another chance for the public to weigh in, too. You can go and express your thoughts starting at 5:30 pm at the legislative offices downtown.