Property assessments seem unfair? House Bill 347 aims to curb capricious, retaliatory assessors


The Alaska House on Wednesday passed legislation to bring property assessments into a more fair process.

Rep. Julie Coulombe of Anchorage introduced House Bill 347, a nearly identical companion to Senate Bill 242, introduced in the Senate earlier this legislative session by Sen. Jesse Kiehl of Juneau.

The bill is intended to restore trust in the property assessment process — trust that has been broke in at least Juneau and Haines, where properties were not only given extraordinary assessments, but when at least one property owner challenged the assessment, the assessor made a punishing decision to increase the assessment even more.

“HB 347 is my bill to put more guardrails around property assessments,” Coulombe said in a Facebook post. “We heard an overwhelming amount of testimony about why this bill is needed to protect property owners. I was grateful for support from my colleagues. “You can watch the floor session here:”

Current law allows for assessors to increase assessments on appeal, which has had a chilling impact on the public’s ability to challenge an assessment, as people fear retaliation.

While House Bill 347 still allows for flexibility at the local level, it creates some baseline standards for assessors.

Rep. David Eastman and Rep. Jesse Sumner voted against the bill, which received support from all other members of the House who were present. The bill has bipartisan support, however. Co-sponsors include Representatives Frank Tomaszewski, Mike Prax, Andi Story, Ben Carpenter, George Rauscher, Sara Hannan, Sarah Vance, Andy Josephson, Stanley Wright, Jamie Allard, Mike Cronk, and Dan Saddler.

The bill is now in the Alaska Senate. Senate Bill 242 has been stuck in Senate Community and Regional Affairs Committee since being referred there on Feb. 19. That committee is chaired by hardline leftist Sen. Forrest Dunbar.


  1. These are the talking points for the bill. It sounds good if that’s all there is.

    Unfortunately, this is a Democrat bill, first introduced by Sen. Kiehl as SB242 in the senate.

    It was unconstitutional then, and it is now, though in different ways.

    In the SB242 version, it sought to create non-uniform standards for assessments by allowing every municipality to create their own standards by ordinance, which violates Article 9, Section 3 of the Alaska Constitution.

    In the house version, HB347, it violates the intent of Article 9, Section 3 by delegating the creation of these same standards to an international body.

    Art. 9, Sec. 3 reads: “ASSESSMENT STANDARDS – Standards for appraisal of all property assessed by the State or its political subdivisions shall be prescribed by law.”

    “Prescribed” means “dictated; set down in law”.

    Section 2 of the bill states that the standards will only be put down in regulation according to the standards approved by the International Association of Assessing Officers. It provides that these standards must then be continually updated in regulation to be kept in harmony with any changes that the International Association of Assessing Officers makes in the future.

    With HB347 we are essentially outsourcing our assessment standards to an international body. This was one of the most hotly contested sections of the constitution during the constitutional convention in 1956. I don’t think that anyone would argue that the delegates who drafted our constitution envisioned the legislature one day delegating control of our tax assessment standards to an international body.

    All Republicans should have been a hard NO on this today. Unfortunately, the only caucus to have a member vote against this today was the one-member House Republican Caucus. My staff and I will continue to hold the line on issues like this, but it gets awfully lonely at times.

    • Thank you for this excellent explanation and detailing of the *whole* bill. It is sad that so many people – legislators included – will wholeheartedly support a bill on an idea or title alone, only seeing too late the poison pill(s) they should have seen, if only they’d looked (or been able to look; legislative language is pretty opaque these days). Remember this approach: “We have to pass it to find out what’s in it?”

      It reminds me of what happened in Anchorage when they wanted to pass laws and regulations around keeping chickens. Many folks liked the idea of “protecting” the opportunity for people to grow their own food, but what we got officially and permanently restricted that opportunity, and gave officials and their representatives yet another excuse for invading people’s private lives.

      Same thing with the legislature’s move to “protect” homeschooling and correspondence learning. Judge Adolph Zeman’s ruling was outrageous, but we’re not going to fix it by legislation, at least not from the group currently in Juneau. Their bills actually legislate and restrict homeschooling, in some ways more than Zeman’s decision would; their bills severely limit how parents use homeschool allotments, how they plan their children’s educational activities, and even eliminate the opt-out for mandate standardized testing. Their bills will bring most homeschoolers completely under the thumb of Big Brother, who is in lockstep with the NEA, which organization is full of people with ideas and plans that are the very reasons many homeschoolers homeschool in the first place. The Watchman has a good article giving more details about this.

      The option for homeschooling families to pull out of any state-sponsored cooperative remains – and many of us will certainly pull out of such an arrangement and its allotment, if it comes tethered to the rules, restrictions and mandates that the legislature is proposing. But the next step undoubtedly will be disallowing independent homeschooling altogether. I’m hoping most people are savvy enough to know why that would be a disaster for our children, our families, our state and our future.

  2. This is needed in Anchorage too. The MOA assessors are snarky little weasels that like to punish anyone that questions them. They are tight with Assembly members, so no doubt assessment values are often tied to your political leanings. If you are an outspoken conservative, they will take great glee in jacking up the assessed value of your house.

  3. This is l-o-n-g overdue. How many times have you received your assessment asked what in tarnation was going on here?

  4. I heartily applaud our lawmakers who have been pushing these bills. They are so overdue. Any horror story you’ve heard, I can probably tell you ones worse. All these bills are doing is requiring municipalities to do what they claim they are already doing. Most are not bad, butsome are. The citizens need these protections before they are often forced out of their homes. If anyone out there can hope to reason with Dunbar please try.

  5. The Muni raised my appraisal $58K last year and $68k this year, but haven’t visited my home since 2016. They just pencil whipped it. Some homes in ny neighborhood didn’t go up at all, some 5% and others like mine 14%. This is shenanigans of the highest order.

  6. The same thing is happening in the Mat-Su. Haven’t upgraded our home yet every year we see massive tax increases. Where are they spending the money, surely not on our roads.

  7. Happening here on the Kenai as well. Mine went up and they wish to reassess to see if they need to lower it. Really?! They say, it’s because property values increased. Do you believe that? I’m not Allowing criminals of the Kenai borough onto my PAID property, no thanks. My house is 10 years old, I’ve had no children in public school and the borough still cannot even keep up on my road. I have to call countless times for plowing, grading etc. when does the financial taping end?


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