Representative Wool speaks with Representative Claman on the House floor.
This year, I’ve introduced three pieces of legislation:
HB 102: Vehicle Rental Tax
Currently, Alaska collects a 10% tax on any car rented in Alaska, with tourists making up most of the income generated by the State Motor Vehicle Rental Tax. Most Alaskans are happy with this arrangement, and the existing businesses which rent these vehicles don’t have a problem collecting the tax and passing it on to the state.
Alaska state law is quite clear that these taxes shall be collected and paid by the entity who provides the vehicle. However, new business models that allow companies to employ “hosts” that rent their personal vehicles through apps have refused to collect the taxes on vehicles rented through their app. HB 102 defines a ‘vehicle rental business’ and a ‘vehicle rental network’ in order to prevent these types like this from shirking their legal responsibilities. This is similar to the bed tax that many municipalities collect on AirBnb. This bill is in house finance right now.
HB123: Electric-Assisted Bicycles
We’ve heard from a number of our constituents who enjoy their electric-assisted bicycles, but aren’t clear about how and where they can be legally operated. The state of Alaska does not have any laws pertaining to electric-assisted bicycles, nor any related references to operating licenses, safety requirements, local traffic laws, or related definitions. A new definition is required to bring clarity for operators of these bicycles.
My bill defines electric-assisted bicycles and regulates them as regular bicycles, with a provision for local municipalities to further regulate them as desired. The bill passed through the House Transportation and Judiciary committees this year.
HB 132: PFD Formula Change
The money to pay for government services overwhelmingly comes from the state’s oil wealth, either directly or through investments derived from previous oil industry payments. The money to pay for Alaskan’s Permanent Fund Dividends comes entirely from investment earnings. A formula exists in statute to pay the PFD as a percentage of investment earnings, but this formula has not been followed each of the last three years, due to the state’s ongoing fiscal uncertainty.
One of the issues with the current formula is that it obligates the state to pay potentially huge dividends, even if the fund itself loses money. Historically, the amount of the PFD has been largely inversely correlated with the broader economy – when oil revenue goes up, the PFD has gone down, and vice versa.
My bill would change the formula and tie the dividend directly to oil and gas revenues – if the price of oil, volume of oil produced, or taxes paid to the state increased, so too would our annual checks. This would help to stabilize state revenue while ensuring that residents remained engaged on the details of oil prices, production, and policy. This bill was just passed out of State Affairs and is now in House Finance.