Rick Whitbeck: Legislative shenanigan alert!  Sen. Wielechowski plays games with Alaska’s future

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Rick Whitbeck

By RICK WHITBECK | POWER THE FUTURE

While Alaskans are enjoying the late-arriving spring, with longer days and warmer weather, state Sen. Bill Wielechowski is spending his final days of this legislative session crafting a darker future for Alaskans by putting a chill on Alaska’s economy.

Sen. Wielechowski hates the oil and gas industry, even though one of every six private-sector jobs is tied to it. The revenues and royalties pay for the state government he helps oversee, and the same sources directly impact the Permanent Fund, and through it, the annual dividends each of us receive in October.

So, when the senator sees an opportunity to attack the industry, he does at every turn. His most recent tactic was to hijack legislation with a harmful amendment to HB 50. Should he get his way, Alaska will face threats of cold, dark winter nights, rolling blackouts and brownouts. At the extreme, we lose a corporate partner whose investment in Alaska makes living, working and playing in the Last Frontier better.

His amendment is attempting to target only Hilcorp; changing its tax structure, and forcing them to pay hundreds of millions of dollars more to the State each year. Would any company agree to this, or would they just divert money that would otherwise be invested in new developments, technologies and projects to pay new tax bills?

There are fiscal reasons why we have a two-tiered tax structure. Punishing smaller, privately-owned businesses – forcing them to be taxed like corporations who raise revenue and issue debt on different scales – will drive them away from this state.  Guaranteed. One hundred percent.  

Will this punitive legislation be used to target other businesses? Is anyone’s tax structure solid, or do we have to wait for Juneau to finish the session?

We do not know, and this uncertainty is a huge red flag for any business that might want to operate in Alaska.  

Sen. Wielechowski has tried this before, but clearer heads in the Alaska Legislature prevailed and stopped his shenanigans. However, this time, he attached his mischief to a piece of legislation that Gov. Mike Dunleavy has called crucial to widening Alaska’s revenue stream, as HB 50 would set in motion the possibility of carbon capture and storage programs, among other things. 

It’s the sort of last-minute parliamentary trick that makes people dislike government, and make business shy away from investing in our state.  It’s unserious and petty, and people or businesses looking to invest billions have little time for the unserious and petty.  

Should the Senate pass HB 50, and the House and/or a conference committee let the amendment stand, it would be interesting to see if the governor would veto the bill and risk Hilcorp pulling its investments and redirecting them to the increased tax burden it would face.

Looking at this with a wider lens, why would any company look to Alaska to enter, expand or invest their dollars in, if by doing so, they subject themselves to treatment from the Legislature like Hilcorp would receive from Sen. Wielechowski’s amendment?  Why would they want to be penalized for helping grow our state’s economy and improve our energy future?  Why would they want to be the next company to incur the wrath of the Legislature’s anti-business agenda?

Passing HB 50 with this amendment sets both bad policy and precedent. Alaska needs Hilcorp, just like we need ConocoPhillips, Santos and all our other producers who fund our state, our first responders, our schools, and employ a bulk of our citizens. Alaska should be saying “thank you” to each of them for their investments, rather than attack them and bemoan their presence.  Their activities bring us heat, electricity, economic stability and yes, those annual Permanent Fund dividend checks we all enjoy every October.

Rick Whitbeck is the Alaska State Director for Power The Future, a national nonprofit organization that advocates for American energy jobs and fights back against economy-killing and family-destroying environmental extremism. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on X (formerly Twitter) @PTFAlaska

14 COMMENTS

  1. With the way the federal government is shutting down Alaska for oil and mining does this make any difference? It’s just another bullet to the head of Alaska?

  2. We are getting what we deserve here. HB 50 and the rest of the carbon control legislation should have died on the vine based on public testimony but the lust for $$ based on a fiat currency was too much for the government and Dunleavy to resist. This gave Weilechowski the in we all know he’s good for in finding a way to bite the hand that feeds us and tax oil some more. Shame on you all for not condemning HB 50 to begin with. Now we’ll have to see if Dunleavy has the stones to do what’s right or throw the baby out with the bath water to cement his ESG legacy.

  3. Whitbeck trots out the worn out trope that if Alaskans tax the oil industry, they’ll leave the state. Won’t happen. Too much oil and too many enablers like Power the Future to keep them here.

    The industry should be taxed to the maximum.

    • Poor Caleb. I cannot imagine the crocodile tears you will be crying as you are sitting in your freezing apartment with no heat, no food and no money. All around you people are trying to wake you up, but you just keep drinking the globalist kool-aide and seeing only what the globalists want you to see.

    • You must have forgotten, that is the EXACT reason BP left Alaska.. Higher taxes, Yes they had other operational taxes all over the world. And there were other problems…

  4. It’s more and more clear every day that Rick Whitbeck is in it for political capital and prefers to play political games. I have all but lost faith in his ability and Power The Future. It sounds to me like Rick is attempting to score a cushy state job to retire on by capitulating to the governor and softly pushing HB50. He should be ashamed, and Daniel Turner should be embarrassed. How sad it seems, as if he has had a thermos full of that Juneau water. I second that HB50 should have died on the vine. It was fully rejected by the people. End of story.

  5. I’d really like it if the bill failed, with or without Bill’s amendment. Carbon bull is bull. Dunleavy seems to want to go all in on Climate Change unscience.

  6. It is apparent the MRAK trolls do not understand the business and tax differences between Type C and Type S Corporations. Type S Corporations were originally legislated for small family businesses, tax revenues to fund government services are collected through income taxes rather than corporate taxes. Hilcorp is pocketing taxes BP paid because Alaska does not have an income tax. Needless to say Hilcorp is not a small family business and they are not paying for government services that BP paid for. Read carefully trolls “ Your PFD is smaller than if BP did not sell to Hilcorp” This was not explained in the article

    • First off, they could pay a full PFD anytime they want. Hell, they could just give back the money they took to offset. At best, the PFD issue has nothing to do with Hilcorp. The S corp money, $150 million per year, makes up less than 1% of the state budget per year. Currently, we are spending $42 million per day. All businesses in Alaska should pay whatever taxes they have contracted with the state to pay, but make no mistake: C Corp, S Corp, all of it comes out of your pocket as they pass the cost of production on to you downstream. So, if you want to tax yourself, then you should support this amendment. HB50 needs to die as well; it’s ONLY going to harm energy production and drive up the cost. And since green tech is simply not ready for mainstream FACT, we need to kill this HB50, period. Abundant energy is freedom.

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