Oil ‘tax hikers’ take delivery of their petition booklets



They got the band back together again. — the oil tax band, that is. The one that lost at the ballot box when voters chose “No on One” in 2014.

A group of oil tax advocates gathered at the Division of Elections on Wednesday and took ownership of the petition booklets they’ll use to gather signatures and make a run at oil companies again.

Their cause is to increase taxes on oil production in Alaska by some 200-300 percent. They’re calling it “Our Fair Share,” and they are led by the law partner of former Gov. Bill Walker, Robin Brena, the oil tax big gun who stands in the middle of the group in the photo above.

[Read the ballot initiative here]

The effort by Brena and Company is another attempt to undo the most recent oil tax reform, SB 21, which passed in 2013 and led to an increase in investment in Alaska’s oil patch.

The taxers will need to get 28,501 signatures before Jan. 21, 2020 in order to make the November General Election ballot. That’s less than 90 days, so this means that they’ll be hiring a professional to send out mercenaries to collect signatures for $1 per.

The Alaska Attorney General has cautioned that the ballot language for this next round of taxation is confusing and could lead to unintended interpretations.

[Read Attorney General Kevin Clarkson’s opinion here]

But evidently the language was good enough for the sponsors of the initiative, which include former U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, current State Sen. Tom Begich, former Anchorage Assemblyman Eric Croft, former Gov. Walker deputy chief of staff Marcia Davis, former Rep. Les Gara, U.S. Senate candidate Al Gross, Anchorage Daily News columnist Stephen Haycox, ACLU’s Laura Herman, Rep. Ivy Spohnholz, Sen. Bill Wielechowski.

Read the entire list of sponsors here:

Some 144 of the 163 names submitted by the group were from the Anchorage municipality. For the petition booklet itself, they’ll have to get valid signatures equal to 7 percent of the total district vote in the last general election in each of three-fourths of the 40 Alaska House districts.

The pro-taxers will be tapping into a quantifiable distaste that some Alaskans have for oil companies. Like elsewhere, the oil companies in Alaska have a popularity problem, and they’ll have to spend a lot of money to convince voters not to jack up the taxes on oil again.

After posing for publicity shots, the group took their petitions with them and decamped to begin the 90-day race for signatures.

If they’re successful, the oil tax initiative could show up on the November General Election ballot. That could be a crowded, confusing ballot and a noisy election cycle. The other ballot initiatives that are trying to make the deadline are:

  • Election reform – ranked voting, no party primary ballots allowed.
  • Education – putting vague education funding language in the state constitution.
  • Recall the governor.
  • Move the Legislature to Anchorage.


  1. This initiative will appeal to greedy municipal leaders, government employees, and NGOs that depend on state tax revenue. We need to explain to them that Alaskans don’t have the final vote – those who make decisions about whether to invest to produce oil in Alaska will cast the ultimate vote, And if this initiative causes investors to vote to invest elsewhere less oil will be produced to collect this tax.
    Furthermore, a tax increase that is focused on companies that have already invested will discourage anyone who is contemplating investing in Alaska for any business purpose.
    Frankly, I doubt the sponsors of this initiative expect it to pass muster with Alaska voters. My guess is they expect to get contact information from a bunch of idiots they can exploit for other political goals, and perhaps to pressure the legislature into passing a measure that is ‘substantially similar’.

  2. Watch the Democrats tax big oil out of Alaska… yah, that will help our situation. With the Bakken coming online in 2006 and really getting underway in 2012, Alaskan oil just isn’t that attractive anymore, and much less expensive fields can be found in the lower 48. Raising taxes isn’t going to generate long-term revenue as long as viable alternatives with easier access exist.

  3. If our product isn’t competitive then maybe we should hold on to it until it is. Is it really worth giving the oil away at rock bottom prices to avoid finding other revenue streams? Selling it at a loss amounts to stealing from Alaskans to avoid stealing from Alaskans. Not very smart.

      • No. I’m ready for taxes now, before the fund gets drained. I’m willing to pay taxes to support an adequate level of government services. And I also believe this level of service will necessarily be higher per capita than other states because of Alaska’s isolation and difficulty encouraging economic development. To go a little further, since you asked, I want a chief executive that is going to run our government efficiently, based on service streams our elected officials have voted into law. I believe in cutting waste, not services; increasing efficiency, not voids; managing competently, not cutting rampantly.

        • That’s mighty gracious of you to support helping others and perhaps even yourself to some of my earnings, B.

          May I ask whether or not you’re riding the gravy train as an employee of one of these service providers, be it government or an NGO that relies on government handouts, or if you and/or your loved ones are recipients of one or more of these services that most rational folks who make a living in the private sector would call frivolous fat that should be slashed before the authorities reach further into some but not all pockets?

          Thanks, B. You’re special. ☺

      • Keep the lights on in government offices.

        But not in the homes that will be vacated by people in need of jobs moving out.

        Not in the homes where people have to choose between food and heat.

        Amusing, though, that these who want to kill Alaska’s economy want to kilkl Alaskan jobs. Or maybe they’re all on the public teat?

        • What are you talking about? Do you think we can cut government down to nothing while at the same time facilitate growth in the business sector? You have to spend money to make money, RevBill. This stuff isn’t magic. Investment goes in, returns come out. Investment doesn’t go in, returns don’t come out. Basic.

        • Can’t speak for B, but yes, I “really DO believe that taxing businesses . . . causes our economy to grow!”
          It’s pretty basic stuff. Business A makes millions. You tax them, you spend that money on roads and new businesses set up on the side of the road. Business B is now able to ship goods to other states.
          Now business B makes a million dollars, we tax them, set up a university, people learn math and business C (google, microsoft, amazon) emerges.
          Why is it, do you think, that Norway has a stronger economy than AK? Alberta, CA? Is it because the taxes are lower? Could it be that the lower taxes = better economy is just cultish belief with little to no evidence to support it?
          Keep the faith, that cargo will come.

  4. The problem with Democrats Liberals Progressives is that the taxes they want just keep increasing. They never have enough because they use government money to line the pockets of there supporters.

  5. B and Adam
    Why don’t you take the lead and start paying taxes now — say 40 percent of your income sounds good to me . You both want it so bad, show up and pay it out like you preach. I doubt you will, as you just want my money to keep your jobs and/or benefits.

    • Because equality. Because the idea is that if we all lift together then the weight isn’t so great. Which is to say the motivation is just the opposite of selfishness.
      Ever gone in on a pizza? Chipped in for gas money? If so you probably have the answer to your question — what’s wrong with letting some people eat but not pay, what’s wrong some getting a free ride?
      Don’t get me wrong, if you can’t pay you can’t. I don’t think a tax should hit anyone making less than 40K — but if you can pay I don’t get why others are paying for your meal.
      Also, do you have an response to the point I made or are you just going to throw out new questions without answering any yourself?

      • So how about giving me a free ride with no end in sight. By the way, I am going to need a increase every years to keep up. I like free pizza. The government wastes more money than you make, so try fixing that problem first.

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