By Rashah McChesney
Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell visited the Kenai Peninsula Tuesday and signed three bills sponsored by members of the local legislative delegation during the last session.
As Parnell addressed the joint Kenai and Soldotna Chambers of Commerce luncheon group, he said he was proud of the coordination displayed by the legislature.
"I've been around for a while and we have not seen such working ... and a desire to meet the challenges facing Alaskans as we have seen with the alignment of House, Senate and the administration working to meet those challenges," he said. "It's not about party, it's not about anything other than desiring to work together in a civil way to meet the challenges that face us."
House Bill 30, sponsored by Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski, establishes a system of performance reviews for governmental agencies through the Legislative Audit Division.
It will use "minimal staff and outsourced independent contract work" to complete the reviews according to the bill's summary.
Chenault said the goal was to go through each department and audit it from the ground up.
"The legislature usually doesn't have the opportunity to do so, being in session for only 90 days. It doesn't usually have the opportunity to go through a $12 billion budget."
If the audit shows that a program is not effective, it will be brought to the legislature's attention.
"They will have to determine "is that program economically viable and should we use it?'" Chenault said.
House Bill 198, sponsored by Kurt Olson, R-Soldotna, allows the Department of Natural Resources to grant one-time extensions to the primary term of certain oil and gas leases.
One-time lease extensions could be granted for up to five years in addition to the primary terms of the lease.
Olson said it would encourage oil and gas explorers and producers to remain in the state.
Senate Bill 7, sponsored by Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage, updates the state's corporate income tax code.
Giessel said the code had not been adjusted for inflation in more than 30 years.
She said the legislation lowered the corporate income tax and was as proud to have sponsored it.
"The idea was actually brought to me by a small business owner who said "do you know how high our income tax is?' So, unlike certain federal leaders, I don't believe that government is what makes your businesses successful. I believe you, you and your hard work, your leadership and your employees hard work is what makes our businesses productive," Giessel said.
Parnell said the legislature accomplished three "big picture" items that he considered imperative.
"We needed to get our fiscal house in order, we needed to cut spending, no question about that," Parnell said. "Second, we needed to reform our oil taxes, third we needed to get the corporate framework authorized to carry the state's interest in a natural gas pipeline."