Wednesday the Alaska Supreme Court upheld Superior Court Judge William F. Morse’s ruling ordering 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. In a two page order, the court rejected Meyer’s appeal. The court will issue a longer decision explaining its reasoning at a later date.
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. In his June ruling, Morse agreed that “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, “but this is a victory for the voters. Today the Supreme Court upheld their right to an unbiased ballot summary. We are confident that as voters get the facts, they will vote yes for Alaska’s Fair Share.”
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 policymakers can ensure oil policies continue to be fair to both the major producers and Alaskans.