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High grades for legislators

Business groups rate state lawmakers

Posted: November 15, 2011 - 9:36am

Local legislators earned mostly high marks on the recently released 2011 Alaska Business Report Card.

Rebecca Logan, from the Alaska Support Industry Alliance, an oil-focused group, presented the report card to the Kenai Chamber of Commerce last week, announcing that the central Peninsula's representatives and senator in the Legislature earned Bs or better.

"You guys are living in a good area," Logan said.

Essentially, lawmakers were graded on how "business-friendly" their legislative actions were.

Rep. Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski, recieved the highest possible grade, an A-plus. Rep. Kurt Olson, R-Soldotna received an A, and Sen. Tom Wagoner, R-Kenai, received a B-minus.

The report card was produced by the Alaska State Chamber of Commerce, Prosperity Alaska, Resource Development Council for Alaska and Alaska Support Industry Alliance, all business-focused organizations.

"The report card is a very, very clear record of what legislators in Juneau are inline with our legislative priorities," Logan said.

Those priorities fell into six major categories: fiscal responsibility, oil tax reform, regulatory streamlining, litigation reform, general business climate and strategic infrastructure. Specifically, legislators received good marks for supporting bills that dealt with workers compensation, extending the Regulatory Commission of Alaska beyond its sunset date, endorsing leases in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge and others.

The five grading criteria were bill sponsorships, committee votes, floor votes, actions taken in committee and overall leadership in and out of the Legislature.

Logan said the report card helps keep citizens informed of what their elected officials are doing.

"Our role in the political process is electing people, and then holding people accountable," she said.

The most recent grading is considered a mid-term report, as the legislators are just halfway through a two-year cycle, Logan said. Their final grades will come at the end of the next legislative session.

Not everyone fared as well as area lawmakers. The Senate majority got an F, and Logan characterized them as "totally irresponsible." The Senate minority got a B-plus, while the house majority received an A-minus and the house minority got a D. Gov. Sean Parnell was given a B-plus.

Logan said that not everyone is happy about the grading process, but that it generates a dialogue on how legislators can better foster business in the state. Some legislators have already asked how they can do better next year, Logan said.

Molly Dischner can be reached at

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jimlbak 11/15/11 - 11:18 am
The Senator

Senator Wagoner does well with a B- because he is the Chair of the Resources Committee. The rating says he is doing his job by making sure that what comes out of committee is not 100 percent industry. He is looking out for the people.

witchwitch 11/15/11 - 11:41 am
A representative for the people would get an F...

Those who received high marks did so primarily for supporting tax breaks for oil producers. When our oil runs dry, those high marks won't fill our empty coffers.

We really shouldn't further cut taxes without irrefutable justification for doing so. To do so sells Alaska's future short.

I would like to see more F's for my representatives from this group, although I have no problem with credits for exploration and development costs. Oil taxes in Alaska (royalties and severance taxes) are not too high.

EWZuber 11/15/11 - 01:29 pm
high marks representing who?

seems typical in this day and age of greed and corruption. I wonder what marks John Cowdery, Vic Kohring and Pete Kott received during their tenure?
With our legislators representing big money, who is representing the people?

orionsbow1 11/15/11 - 01:44 pm
Change the format

Lets change the format and see who scores what. This was an "Alaska business report card" what about an Alaskan freedom report card or a peoples choice report card.

Norseman 11/15/11 - 04:07 pm
big oil

Big oil will continue to spoonfeed you what they want you to hear. Look up the 3 largest contributors to this so called Industry support alliance then you will quickly see where the true agenda lies.

This is exactly how we elected an ex big oil lobbyist for governor.

The backdoor bribes will still continue, but now let's use the media to strongarm some of our politicians to stay in line with the big oil agenda.

We the people are the ones who will assign the grades. Those that are corrupt or will NOT listen to the will of the people, will not get re-elected.

Sooner or later Alaskans need to wake up and quit electing the mouthpieces for big oil.

cbeard 11/15/11 - 05:29 pm
Business does not equal People

The grades should be reverse (A to F, B to D, etc.) for voters. Private enterprise should not control, "reward", or specially recognize our lawmakers because citizens cannot formally control private enterprise interests by means of voting.

Only those business' biggest shareholders control their interests.

The oil industry is all fine and dandy because it's still viable, but it will go kaput either in our lifetime or our children's lifetime and sitting around to let private oil companies run our governmental ideals means that Alaskans will be embarrassingly unable to deal with the industry's decline.

As soon as the industry tips over the shareholders will pull their interests, stock their savings accounts, and leave the citizens high and dry to suffer because they never had the chance to legitimately weigh in on their own government's energy policies.

"Conservatives" are always angry at people who want "handouts", but only giving the political voice to people with money or big paychecks is just as wrong.

Allen 11/15/11 - 05:38 pm
High Grade Means Biggest Oil Industry Puppet

"Logan said the report card helps keep citizens informed of what their elected officials are doing." Yes we're informed all right, informed about which local legislators are oil industry puppets. Just in case we couldn't figure it out for ourselves.

I am proud of Tom Wagoner for getting a B- on this report.

Alaska Rocks
Alaska Rocks 11/15/11 - 05:40 pm
Keep it in perspective

This report card was put together by several organizations who were following very specific issues that are important to them as a group. If you want a report card to reflect the issues that are important to you, do one yourself and then publish the results. Why would these organizations change the format of the report card that they put together to track how the lawmakers are voting as it pertains to these groups and the issues that are important to them? That doesn't make any sense.
Apparently some of you didn't read that there were six categories that these folks were graded on-of which only ONE was Oil Tax reform. The specific item listed that legislators received good marks on was workman's compensation, not for supporting tax breaks for oil companies.
Because the Alliance is a non-profit, their records are public. Take a look for yourselves who they do and do not contribute money to and who they receive money from.
The Alliance represents 400 oil and gas support companies, not the majors who are not allowed to be a part of the organization. These 400 businesses employ over 30,000 Alaskan workers (not the families they support, just the workers and also not the people employed by the majors which is how many thousands of additional workers?). The Alliance only made up one of these agencies. How many other folks in this state does the Alaska State Chamber, Prosperity Alaska and the RDC represent?
So for any of you to say that these agencies who put together this report card do not represent the "will of the people" or "Alaskans", you are extremely off base.

corinnep 11/21/11 - 10:21 pm
Get your facts straight

From the Alliance's web site:
"The voice of Alaska's mining, oil and natural gas industries by conveying industry concerns and positions to many audiences.

There isn't anything on their web site stating that "the majors" (oil/gas/mining) companies aren't allowed to be part of the organization. Their financial information is not on their web site.

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