most of last week the Alaska House and Alaska Senate were at an impasse over
how to help residents out in the face of soaring energy costs. When the dust
finally settled – just hours before the deadline – the House and Senate agreed
on a measure that had more elements from the House version, including a
12-hundred dollar cash payment to Alaskans.
Senator Gary Stevens, the majority’s rules chairman, said he was satisfied with
the resulting bill, but feels more work has to be done when the next
legislature convenes in January:
-- (Stevens Energy 1 31 sec “… people pay
their bills for this coming winter.”)
the 12-hundred dollar check, Power Cost Equalization – or PCE – has been
expanded in communities that already benefit from it, and the state’s fuel tax
has been suspended for a year. That fuel tax holiday applies to automobile
gasoline, truck and boat diesel fuel and aviation fuel.
Senate had wanted to send Alaskans a smaller amount of cash, but to spend more
money on reducing the cost of fuel and electricity, and for energy-saving
-- (Stevens Energy 2 23 sec “… wound up to be
said the legislature had debated sending the payment to Alaskans in mid-winter
when it’s coldest and energy expenditures are greatest, but chose to tack it
onto the PFD check for simplicity’s sake. He said to do it any other way would
have cost the state more money. The Department of Revenue is also planning on
issuing the combined checks earlier than the PFD is usually sent out, perhaps
sometime in September.