Leg with Louie: From the Smoke, Another Policy Option

Legislation is moving along to provide property tax incentives for energy-efficient new construction, refurbishments, remodels, and renovations. The bill also authorizes municipalities to offer property owners air quality tax credits for improvements, “including new construction, refurbishments, remodels, and renovations that aid in improving the air quality in the municipality.” The bill leaves the task of defining what qualifies explicitly for the tax credit up to the municipality, but generally implicates home heating conversions to gas or renewables, and home makeovers or new builds that are easy to heat and lead to decreased emissions.

HB 232 Municipal Tax Credits and its senate companion, SB 175, come from Fairbanks-area lawmakers and are in response to the human-health/life and safety air quality challenge that town faces due to many factors including geography and politics.

Most of the legislation signed into law over the past half-decade that could increase building energy efficiency and on-site renewable energy generation has come from Fairbanks, spurred by dire air quality on certain wood smoke days. In 2017, in part to help a natural gas distribution network spread through the Golden Heart City, a law was passed allowing commercial property owners to borrow money for energy efficiency, renewable energy, or other projects and make repayments via an assessment on their property tax bill.

In 2018, also in part to facilitate natural gas distribution build-out in Fairbanks, legislation was passed to allow an electric or gas distribution utility to enter into a financing arrangement with a customer or landlord to finance the purchase and installation of a renewable energy system, energy efficiency device, or energy conservation system in an eligible residence or building – also known as On-Bill Financing.

That these policies required a human health emergency to move forward is a sad statement on human nature, and a bad sign about Alaskan’s political will to proactively address what is coming in terms of climate change. However, it would be deeply foolish not to take these solutions and run with them as we all strive to build a healthy state.

HB 232 is up on Monday in the House Labor and Commerce Committee, which is it’s last stop until it hits the gatekeeping Rules Committee and hopefully, the House Floor. Because HB 232 is moving faster than its Senate counterpart (SB 175 has a single committee of referral in the Senate, which means it has the approval of leadership), HB 232 will become the primary vehicle for movement once it transfers to the Senate.

Keep an eye on this one.

Hearings to watch


Monday, March 2nd

9:00 a.m. (S)FINANCE
Analysis of Ballot Initiative 190GTX by Rich & Christina Ruggiero, IN3NERGY

1:00 p.m. (H)JUDICIARY
HB 198 AGGRAVATING FACTORS AT SENTENCING
— Public Testimony —

3:15 p.m. (H)LABOR & COMMERCE
HB 232 MUNICIPAL TAX CREDITS
— Public Testimony —

3:30 S)RESOURCES
SB 217 STATE LAND VOUCHER; PFDS
— Public Testimony —
SB 161 GEOTHERMAL RESOURCES
— Public Testimony —
HJR 25 ENSURE ACCESS INTO DENALI PARK
— Public Testimony —

Tuesday, March 3rd

8:00 a.m. H)COMMUNITY & REGIONAL AFFAIRS
HB 193 SECOND VERSE OF ALASKA’S STATE SONG
— Public Testimony —
HB 221 STATE RECOGNITION OF TRIBES
— Public Testimony —

9:00 a.m. S)FINANCE
SB 123 ELECTRIC RELIABILITY ORGANIZATIONS
— Public Testimony —

3:00 p.m. (H)STATE AFFAIRS
HB 250 VOTER REGISTRATION AGE

3:30 p.m. S)COMMUNITY & REGIONAL AFFAIR
SB 194 ADVANCED NUCLEAR REACTORS
— Testimony <Invitation Only> —

3:30 p.m.S)STATE AFFAIRS
SJR 18 WOMEN’S SUFFRAGE
— Public Testimony —
HB 83 PROHIBIT VOTING BY FACSIMILE
— Public Testimony —
SB 165 PROSTITUTION/TRAFFICKING; VACATE CONVICT.

Wednesday, March 4th

12:00 p.m. Lunch & Learn:
– Statewide Outdoor Recreation Priorities by Lee Hart
– Statewide Trails Initiative by Chris Beck
– New Tourism Products & Regenerative Tourism by Natalie Dawson
– Adventure Tourism Business by Dan Blanchard
– Snow Machine Community Priorities by Michele Stevens
Sponsored by Rep. Kreiss-Tomkins & Alaska Outdoor Alliance

1:00 p.m. H)RESOURCES
Presentation: The State of Alaska’s Unsung Economic Powerhouse by Lee Hart, Alaska Outdoor Alliance
HB 151 ELECTRIC RELIABILITY ORGANIZATIONS

3:15 p.m. H)LABOR & COMMERCE
HB 27 REGULATION OF FLAME RETARDANT CHEMICALS

Thursday, March 5th

12:00 p.m. Lunch & Learn:
Shining a Light on Youth Mental Illness by
– Dr. Joanne Gartenberg, Behavioral Health Medical Director, Bartlett Regional Hospital
– Rachael Woods, MS, Juneau Youth Services
– Jason Lessard, Anchorage Exec. Dir, NAMI
– Natalie Fraser & Zoe Kaplan, Co-Founders, Mental Health Advocacy Through Storytelling
Sponsored by Rep. Hannan

3:30 p.m. S)RESOURCES
SB 176 REGULATE PFAS USE; FIRE/WATER SAFETY
— Public Testimony —
SB 232 PERSONAL USE FISHING PERMIT FEES
— Public Testimony —

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