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Repeal group reports raising more than $63,000

Posted: July 11, 2013 - 7:26pm

JUNEAU — The group behind an effort to repeal Alaska’s oil tax overhaul has reported raising more than $63,000 for the campaign so far.

According to financial disclosures, “Vote Yes — Repeal the Giveaway” reported raising about $44,000 of that between May 16 and June 30, as it entered its final signature-gathering push. Major donors during the period included B.J. Gottstein and attorney Robin Brena, each listed as contributing $10,000. There is no contribution limit for ballot groups, according to the Alaska Public Offices Commission.

The Legislature in April passed a measure cutting taxes on the oil industry. Supporters, including Gov. Sean Parnell, cast it as a way to increase oil production and industry investment. But critics have labeled it a giveaway to oil companies with no guarantee of what the state will get in return.

The group faces a Saturday deadline for turning in enough qualified signatures to get the proposed referendum on next year’s primary ballot. Organizers have indicated they expect to meet that requirement.

This is just one of several signature-gathering efforts underway in Alaska.

There are also proposed ballot initiatives that would raise the state’s minimum wage, legalize the personal use and possession of marijuana by those 21 and older and require legislative approval for large-scale mining activity in the Bristol Bay region.

While ballot groups have up to a year to turn in petition booklets for proposed initiatives, organizers behind these three proposals will need to turn in the required signatures before the next legislative session starts in January if they want to try to get them on the 2014 primary ballot.

Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell recently certified the marijuana and minimum wage proposals, clearing the way for signature-gathering to begin. The “Bristol Bay Forever” proposal had been OK’d for signature-gathering months earlier.

Bristol Bay Forever Inc. reported raising about $65,000 between April 1 and June 30, ending the period with just under $1,000 left. Nearly all the money raised during the period came from the Renewable Resources Coalition, which opposes the proposed Pebble Mine.

Unions accounted for the majority of the more than $31,000 raised by “Alaskans for a Fair Minimum Wage” between April 1 and July 7. The proposed initiative would raise the minimum wage from the current $7.75 an hour to $8.75 an hour effective Jan. 1, 2015. It would go to $9.75 an hour a year later and be adjusted for inflation annually after that. The group reported about $10,000 on hand at the end of the period and $17,000 in debts.

Ed Flanagan, a former state labor commissioner and an organizer of the initiative effort, said his group estimates it will take about $60,000 to get through the signature-gathering phase.

The “Campaign to Regulate Marijuana” reported raising nearly $2,500 between April 1 and June 30, with the Marijuana Policy Project providing nearly all the financial and non-monetary contributions reported.

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