If voters approve it on August 19, measure 1 would repeal Senate Bill 21, an oil tax reform bill that was passed by the Legislature, signed into law on June 24, 2013, and went into effect on Jan. 1 of this year.
Old Harbor Native Corporation CEO Carl Marrs said the corporation sent out a mass mailing to let people know about the forum, but only about a dozen showed up to the Kodiak Harbor Convention Center.
“I think we got beat out by the weather,” Marrs said about the sunny, warm day.
At the event, Jim Jansen, co-chairman of the Keep Alaska Competitive - Vote No on 1 Coalition, presented videos and a PowerPoint presentation and encouraged audience comments.
"We are not the oil industry. We take no funding from the oil industry," Jansen said.
That is one thing that keeps people leery of the vote no campaign, he said, because the Vote No on 1 Coalition, a different organization with a similar name, is funded by the oil industry.
"I don't see this as an oil issue. I see it as an Alaska issue," Jansen said.
Keep Alaska Competitive believes that oil taxes as they were before the new tax structure was implemented were too high and would lead to oil companies leaving the state and not investing in Alaska oil and infrastructure.
"Alaska is the only state of all the oil-producing states in the United States that has not increased production over the last five years," Jansen said. He cited data that showed Alaska oil production has fallen from second place behind Texas to fourth behind Texas, North Dakota and California.
"We need to give them an incentive to stay," Jansen said.
On the other hand, the group Vote Yes - Repeal the Giveaway says oil production has been declining for decades through periods of high and low taxation, and the tax rate has nothing to do with whether or not production increases.
Marrs said he had hoped to have someone to present the Vote Yes side, but the spokesman that forum organizers had been arranging to speak was unavailable.
Supporters of repealing the new tax system say it's a giveaway that gives the state less money, increases budget deficits and removes incentives for oil companies to invest in Alaska, according to the Vote Yes website.
Voters will decide the issue at the Aug. 19 primary election.
Contact Julie Herrmann at email@example.com.