Round of public forums scheduled on ballot measures

Lisa Demer

Public forums are coming up on this year's voter-driven ballot measures.

On Wednesday, Anchorage Young Republicans will host a forum at the Wilda Marston Theater at Loussac Library on the effort to repeal Senate Bill 21, the oil tax measure approved last year. It is set to begin at 6:15 p.m.

Speakers include economist Scott Goldsmith, state Sen. Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage, former Anchorage Mayor Rick Mystrom and Doug Smith, an emeritus board member of the Alaska Support Industry Alliance and chief executive of Little Red Services Inc., an oil field services company. Andrew Halcro, president of the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce, will moderate.

A series of forums later this summer is being sponsored by Alaska Common Ground, with the League of Women Voters of Anchorage and the Anchorage public library as cosponsors.

Other forums also are being organized, including public hearings required under state law and held by the lieutenant governor's office. But those won't include a debate over the effort to repeal Senate Bill 21, because that's a state referendum trying to veto an existing law as opposed to an initiative seeking to create new law. State law only requires public hearings for initiatives. A schedule for the hearings is being worked out.

The initiatives all will be considered by voters in the Nov. 4 general election, while the referendum is set for the Aug. 19 primary.

The Common Ground forums to educate voters will take place at the Wilda Marston Theater at Loussac Library. The forums will run from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on these dates:

July 23 -- Referendum to repeal Senate Bill 21. The forum will pit state Sen. Bill Wielechowski and economist Gregg Erickson on the "yes" side against oil and gas consultant Brad Keithley and petroleum economist Roger Marks on the "no" side. Gunnar Knapp, director of the UAA Institute of Social and Economic Research, will moderate the forum, and ISER is cosponsoring.

Cliff Groh, chairman of Alaska Common Ground, said the format will allow the opposing sides to question one another.

July 30 -- Initiative to raise the minimum wage. Alaska AFL-CIO president Vince Beltrami will argue the "yes" side and Kyle Hampton, an assistant professor of economics at the University of Alaska Anchorage, will present the "no" side.

Aug. 6 -- Initiative to legalize marijuana. Taylor Bickford, with the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Alaska, and Bill Parker, a former state deputy corrections commissioner, will argue for the initiative, while Deborah Williams and Kristina Woolston, with the group "Big Marijuana. Big Mistake. Vote No on 2," will take the opposite side.

Aug. 13 -- Initiative to protect Bristol Bay by requiring legislative approval of any big mine in the region. Speakers are still being set.

Anchorage Daily News
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