Dozens gathered Saturday afternoon at the Division of Elections' Absentee and Petition Office at Ship Creek to submit signed petitions containing thousands of signatures with the hopes of placing the future of Alaska's economy into the hands of voters.
For the past 90 days, volunteers across the state collected more than 45-thousand signatures to accompany the petition, going well beyond the 30,169 required minimum.
In May, Governor Sean Parnell signed Senate Bill 21 into law. The bill overhauled Alaska's oil tax structure, establishing a base rate of 35%, the rate at which a barrel of oil is taxed with the hopes of encouraging oil producers to invest in Alaska.
“It's a very uplifting feeling when you've been worried that you may not be able to get 30,000 signatures,” Vic Fisher, former state senator, said. "We hope that legislators and the governor understand that you cannot do something extreme without giving the people a chance to speak out and listen to the people.”
In a statement released by the governor's office, Sean Parnell defends SB-21 saying, "I have seen new confidence in Alaska's economy since passage of the More Alaska Production Act.”
“At this point I don't think we should chase away Alaskans' opportunity with an ill-advised referendum.” Parnell said. “The question has to be asked of referendum supporters ... 'what's your plan for Alaska if you want to take us back to a system with guaranteed production decline?'"
The submission marked the fourth referendum petition that has ever been filed in Alaska, according to supporters of the petition.
The state will have 60 days to review the signatures on the petition, and if the minimum requirement is met, the referendum will appear on the primary election ballot in August of 2014.
Contact Blake Essig