Sunday, June 04, 2006

A Founding Father: A re-write of history?

I was disappointed to read what was said by Vic Fisher, one of the founders to the Alaska Constitution.

Victor Fischer, who was a member of the Alaska Constitutional Convention in the mid-1950s, said those provisions are in direct conflict with what he and his colleagues were trying to do.

"No state contract should leave it up to (the oil companies) when to develop the gas -- in 20, 30 or 40 years, if ever," Fischer said. "That's in effect what the proposed contract allows. Such a contract violates the spirit and intent of those who wrote the constitution."

There also are several other provisions that are clearly beyond the bounds of the constitution, including the tax freeze, which Fischer believes makes the entire public process the state is going through a futile exercise because the contract will not stand up to a legal challenge.

First, the "contract" is not really a contract as of yet. It is more of a blueprint.

Next to his comments on the tax freeze.


PRESIDENT EGAN: The question is, "Shall Article IX, the article on finance and taxation, be adopted as a part of the Alaska's state constitution?" The Chief Clerk will call the roll.
(The Chief Clerk called the roll with the following result:

Yeas: 51 - Armstrong, Awes, Barr, Boswell, Buckalew, Collins, Cooper, Cross, Davis, Emberg, H. Fischer, V. Fischer, Gray, Harris, Hellenthal, Hermann, Hilscher, Hinckel, Hurley, Johnson, Kilcher, King, Knight, Laws, Lee, Londborg, McCutcheon, McLaughlin, McNealy, McNees, Metcalf, Nerland, Nolan, Nordale, Peratrovich, Poulsen, Reader, Riley, R. Rivers, V. Rivers, Robertson, Rosswog, Smith, Stewart, Sundborg, Sweeney, Taylor, Walsh, White, Wien, Mr. President.
Nays: 0 -

Absent: 4 - Coghill, Doogan, Marston, VanderLeest.)

Nerland said:

There are certain conditions under which these properties might be subject to taxation, and the more or less standard phrase of all or any portion probably used exclusively for nonprofit, charitable, cemetery, or educational purposes as defined by law is exempt from taxation and this is the provision that allows for some exemption or inducement to industries or similar things.

Following up on this:

PRESIDENT EGAN: Mr. Ralph Rivers.

R. RIVERS: Mr. President, capital improvements, Mr. Kilcher, refer to capital improvements of the state or the political subdivisions, like a highway situation or waterworks. The money that the state lends to farmers is not a state capital improvement at all; that's a loan program to help the farmers to improve their lands, but that's not the subject we are talking about; we are talking about capital improvements of the state, or political subdivision.

KILCHER: Thank you. Then in Section 1, a similar question, in the second line, the power "shall never be suspended or contracted." Could you consider that the power of taxation -- could you consider that taxes could be suspended, taxes applying to farms as a part of an integral industry?

NERLAND: I would suspect that if all farms in the Territory were so included, that perhaps they could be.

KILCHER: Yes, that's what I had in mind. Thank you.

Like I said, I was disappointed to read what Mr. Fischer has stated. The intent in the exemption is clear and his words to the intent are not found in Nerland's or Kilcher's comments.

This is unfortunate.

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