Judge: Proposed Summary “Improper”

June 10, 2020
Contact: Robin Brena (907) 258-2000 or (907) 223-1000

Yesterday Superior Court Judge William F. Morse ordered Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer (R-Anchorage) to correct the ballot summary for Ballot Measure 1, Alaska’s Fair Share Act, as requested by initiative sponsors. Alaska law requires Meyer to craft a “true and impartial summary” for the ballot.

Initiative sponsors filed suit challenging Meyer’s initial summary of three of the four key provisions of the Fair Share Act as biased, untrue, and partial. After the initiative sponsors brought suit, Meyer’s revised his summary to correct his characterization of two of the three provisions, but continued to mischaracterize the third provision that required “[a]ll tax filings . . . shall be a matter of public record.” This transparency provision amends the existing law and permits Alaskans to know the revenues, costs, and profits of the major producers in our three major oil fields.

Meyer, who as a state senator was a key architect of Alaska’s current oil tax system, proposed a summary of the transparency provision claiming tax filings would remain confidential–the opposite of its plain language. Judge Morse agreed “the phrase ‘matter of public [record]’ is often used as shorthand to mean information or documents are not to be kept confidential but will be available for public inspection.” He also agreed with the initiative sponsors that Meyer’s interpretation should be struck from the ballot summary, holding that “[Meyer] places his finger on the scales and affirmatively states that [the transparency provision] does not mean or accomplish what its sponsors say was their intent or would be the effect of the initiative.” “This affirmative resolution of the dispute over its meaning is not an impartial summary of [the transparency provision]. By siding with the possibility of confidentiality Meyer has engaged in partisan suasion. That is improper.”

“It is unfortunate we had to bring suit against Lieutenant Governor Meyer to get him to fulfill his duty to provide a true and impartial summary of the Fair Share Act,” initiative chair Robin Brena said, “That said, we are pleased Judge Morse has thoughtfully reviewed this issue and issued a clear ruling permitting Alaskan voters to have a truly impartial summary on the November ballot. This is not the first nor will it be the last road block by people opposed to the Fair Share Act. We hope all Alaskans will support Alaska’s future by helping Alaskans get a transparent and fair share of our oil in this time of great need.”

Ballot Measure No. 1, the Fair Share Act, will be on the November 3 general election ballot. It will increase Alaskans’ share by increasing production taxes from a minimum of 0-4% to 10% for our three largest and most profitable fields. This will to help more fully fund PFDs, essential services, and capital budgets to create jobs for Alaskans. It will also transparently permit Alaskans to know the revenues, costs, and profits from our three major fields, so we can ensure our oil policies will continue to be fair to both the major producers and Alaskans.

For additional information Contact: Robin Brena (907) 258-2000 or (907) 223-1000. For campaign related inquiries, contact campaign manager David Dunsmore at (907) 278-8000 or (907) 830-4288