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When the voters want a say, they should get it.
As long as it is Alaska voters seeking a voice about Alaska issues.
The state Legislature passed an oil tax bill, Senate Bill 21, in the most recent session, and Gov. Sean Parnell signed it. The bill was designed to give oil companies incentive to invest more of their time and dollars in Alaska's oil fields.
Alaska oil production has been declining. The action outlined in the bill is expected — by some — to turn that around. Gov. Parnell is among those with turn-around hopes, and on a recent visit to Ketchikan noted that those are being realized. Oil development is on the increase in Alaska, he says.
Meanwhile, Peggy Wilson of Wrangell, Ketchikan's House member, says oil development is being impaired because of an oil-tax repeal initiative. She says oil companies would invest more if they didn't have the instability inherent with the initiative, which, if passed, would have the effect of reverting Alaska to last year's oil-related law.
Supporters of the initiative gathered the necessary signatures, including that of Ketchikan's senator, Bert Stedman of Sitka, to place a repeal of SB 21 on the ballot in the 2014 election season.
Whether one agrees with the initiative itself or not, the process that allows voters to second-guess their elected leaders is valid, particularly when it's Alaskans who propose the initiative, sign the initiative and vote on the initiative. In this case, legislators were almost evenly divided on the bill. While the votes were mostly along party lines, they weren't completely. There were legislators who crossed the divide. That the bill didn't garner wider support makes some Alaskans ill at ease.
Alaskans should be interested in the state's oil industry, and if that includes an initiative, so be it. If the repeal is a bad idea, it will be voted down by other Alaskans.