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Draft: Lawmakers can tout position on referendum

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 4, 2014 at 4:45 pm •  Published: August 4, 2014

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Lawmakers can use state resources, like their legislative websites, to make known their positions on the upcoming oil tax referendum, according to a proposed recommendation set to be considered by the Alaska Public Offices Commission.

The draft recommendation, by commission staff member Thomas Lucas, points to a decision by the Select Committee on Legislative Ethics that found action to support or oppose an initiative was related to lawmakers' duties.

The ethics committee, in a campaign-themed newsletter earlier this year, noted lawmakers often are asked to take a stand on public issues. According to the newsletter, activities permitted with the use of state resources include letters, mailings and emails concerning a lawmaker's position on an initiative or referendum and having staff research issues related to a ballot measure.

House Speaker Mike Chenault and Senate President Charlie Huggins requested guidance from the public offices commission regarding lawmakers expressing their opinions on ballot measures and the upcoming oil tax referendum. Some lawmakers have been particularly outspoken about the referendum, which seeks to repeal the oil tax cut that passed a divided Legislature in 2013. Huggins and Chenault did not single out anyone in making the request.

Supporters of the repeal effort say the new tax structure gives too much to the oil companies. Opponents say the new tax structure is working, encouraging additional investment on the North Slope.

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