Parnell delivers State of the State address

By Becky Bohrer

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 18 2012 10:30 p.m. MST

Court action was delayed while a settlement was pursued, by Parnell said the state will fight for its interests at a Feb. 8 hearing before the Alaska Supreme Court if there's not a full resolution by then.

He also said he expects alignment by the three companies under a pipeline project to tidewater by the end of March. Alignment must come under the framework of the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act. He said he expects conclusion of talks to determine whether a big line and smaller, in-state line can consolidate by the third quarter of the year. Also by September, he wants the companies to harden their numbers on a liquefied natural gas project and to identify a work schedule.

If those milestones are met, he said the legislature can take up gas tax legislation next year.

On Wednesday, the Senate Finance Committee introduced legislation that would separate oil and gas production, for purposes of taxation, indicating that members of the Senate may want to address the issue sooner if an oil tax bill advances in the chamber. This week, Senate President Gary Stevens said he would like to see the Senate craft its own version of an oil tax bill.

Parnell said while he and lawmakers might not always agree on the means, "we do have a common vision for the ends: more opportunity, more prosperity, more freedom. Let this be the legacy we leave our children and grandchildren."

In response to the speech, House Minority Leader Beth Kerttula, D-Juneau, said her caucus wants to make sure Alaska gets its "fair share," if there are any changes to the oil tax structure. She said her caucus would stand against any effort to "give away our resources."

Stevens, R-Kodiak, who leads a bipartisan majority, told reporters that Parnell is right in saying this will be an important legislative session, particularly as it pertains to oil and gas issues and trying to find "meaningful solutions." Sen. Joe Thomas, D-Fairbanks, said he'd like to see a plan that delivers increased production and doesn't simply give money away to companies and leave the state "hoping for the best."

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Becky Bohrer can be reached at http://twitter.com/bbohrer.

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