04 May 2007

Sine Die

In the midst of digesting today's news about the arrests of Pete Kott, Bruce Weyhrauch, and Vic Kohring, I was reminded of a moment in last summer's PPT debate that I still don't quite understand.

Last June 4th, as the first special session on the petroleum profits tax was reaching its conclusion, the bill came before the full House of Representatives. A handful of representatives proposed increasing the tax rate with amendment 1. That measure passed, with a group of Republican lawmakers opposing it. Take a look at the journal text and focus on these names: Anderson, Chenault, Kohring, Kott, Meyer, and Weyhrauch.

Then, the House passed amendment 2, which, as I understand, made PPT more expensive for the oil producers. When you look at the journal text, you'll see that same group of lawmakers opposed it: Anderson, Chenault, Kohring, Kott, Meyer, and Weyhrauch.

And then came the part I completely did not understand - Bruce Weyhrauch moved to adjourn sine die. That means the session would adjourn for good and all the committee work on PPT - as well as those harmful amendments - would vanish until the legislature next meet, either in special or regular session. This move caught me off guard since it came right in the middle of a policy debate on an oil tax and I wondered at the back of my mind whether Weyhrauch was looking to protect the oil companies.

A vast majority of lawmakers voted against the move since they wanted to keep talking about PPT. But six lawmakers voted in favor of cutting off debate altogether: Anderson, Chenault, Kohring, Kott, Meyer, and Weyhrauch. Of those six names, four have now been arrested and charged with bribery in connection with an oil services company. The two others? They're chairing meetings of the Finance committee.

As Alaskans probe their memories for indicators that this might be coming, this is just my little contribution. I don't pretend to understand even a small portion of what's at play but it sure is interesting to watch.

UPDATE: The federal investigators picked up on this too - page 17 of the Weyhrauch/Kott indictment, paragraph 60, though it doesn't appear to mean much to the rest of the indictment.

1 comment:

First Alaskan Man said...

I owe you a lot more then 3 drinks my friend. This is damn good reporting.