A ballot initiative that would boost taxes on the oil industry in Alaska has met the minimum number of qualifying signatures to appear before voters this year.
The proposed Fair Share Act this week surpassed the required signature threshold of 28,501, according to an Alaska Division of Elections count update.
The group backing the oil tax initiative also said the count already shows it collected the minimum amount of signatures in 37 of 40 Alaska House districts, exceeding the second requirement to get the measure on the ballot.
That was confirmed Friday by Gail Fenumiai, Division of Elections director. The review is still underway for the remaining signatures, she said.
[ExxonMobil and Hilcorp make big donations to group fighting effort to raise oil taxes]
The “Vote Yes for Alaska’s Fair Share" group said they submitted more than 44,000 signatures to Elections officials in January.
It’s not certain when the measure will appear on the ballot.
Depending on when the Legislature adjourns, it could appear in the primary election in August, the general election in November or in a special election over whether to recall Gov. Mike Dunleavy from office. The recall effort recently launched its second round of signature gathering.
The Fair Share Act is expected to raise oil production taxes by about $1 billion annually. The industry this year is expected to pay close to $400 million in those taxes, the state has estimated.
The measure’s supporters say the industry pays far less than it should in taxes, while more state revenue is needed. Opponents say higher taxes will drive away oil companies and kill critical investments needed to boost North Slope oil production.
Once all signatures are reviewed, the final numbers will be forwarded to Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer, Fenumiai said. The lieutenant governor must notify the Fair Share group that their petition was properly filed before it can appear on the ballot.