Petroleum Profits Tax Adopted
The 24th Legislature began with a short-lived leadership coup in November for Speaker of the House, included several special sessions, and the passage of a number of contentious bills. Lawmakers, among other things, extensively revised presumptive sentencing; increased penalties for possession, manufacture, or delivery of marijuana; clarified when the use of deadly force is justified in defense of self; and required school districts to adopt a policy that prohibits bullying. During the first special session lawmakers attended to unfinished business including appropriations for the operating and capital budgets, an increase in the base student allocation for public school funding, changes to the state's retirement system to eliminate traditional pensions and establish 401(k)-style investment accounts for new state employees, and establishment of the Workers' Compensation Appeals Commission. In 2005, high oil prices led to one of the largest capital budgets in the state's history.
Lawmakers also established cost-recovery fisheries for private nonprofit hatchery facilities, required state-regulated health care insurers to offer coverage for colorectal cancer screening and lab tests, and established an Office of Elder Fraud and Abuse. After 20 years, under the Economic Limit Factor (ELF) tax system, half the fields on the North Slope were paying no production tax. As a result, in a 2006 special session, lawmakers repealed ELF and enacted a new oil and gas production tax system known as the Petroleum Profits Tax (PPT). By these changes, Alaska's gross revenue tax scheme became a net-profits type system.
In 2006, Alaska voters approved the following citizen initiatives:
- A 90-day limit to the regular session of the Alaska legislature.
- The establishment of a per person tax on cruise ship passengers, wastewater discharge permits for cruise ships, and a new ocean ranger program.
- Changes to the amounts individuals may give to candidates, as well as requiring groups to disclose contributors and the amounts given, and requiring persons who lobby for at least 10 hours in a 30-day period to register as lobbyists.
Beyond the Legislature
Former Governor Jay Hammond dies at his home in Lake Clark.
Susan Butcher, four-time Iditarod winner dies of leukemia.
Hurricane Katrina strikes the Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama coastal areas. Levees separating Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans are breached by the storm surge, flooding roughly 80 percent of the city of New Orleans.
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger becomes the 265th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, taking the name Pope Benedict XVI.
Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice-President Cheney's chief of staff, resigns over the leak of Valerie Plame as a covert CIA operative.
Kuwait gives women the right to vote.