(The Center Square) – Elected officials in Alaska and Oregon are speaking out about proposed legislation that would impose a tax on diesel and gasoline fuel that is shipped from Washington state across state lines.
Part of a four-bill package introduced earlier this month would place a tax of 6 cents per gallon on fuel coming from refineries along the Puget Sound that is sent to Alaska, Idaho and Oregon. There are no refineries in Idaho or Oregon and only one in Alaska.
In a speech on the House floor Thursday in the Alaska Legislature, Rep. Kevin McCabe, R-Big Lake, said he would draft legislation involving taxes and the commercial fishing industry in response.
The first would levy a tax of 6 cents per pound for fish caught in Alaska, above and beyond the current landing tax. It would apply to all fishing boats, but those owned by Alaskan companies could apply for a tax credit.
The second would levy a tax of 6 cents per foot on fishing boats moored in Alaska, while those owned by Alaskan companies could also apply for a tax credit.
The move is seen as targeting fishing boats from Washington state that operate in Alaskan waters.
“Frankly, I’m tired of being thought of as a Washington colony,” McCabe said. “I’m tired of them taxing us and depending on us for their needs.”
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said on Twitter Thursday that she spoke with Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and “made it very clear that Washington taking unilateral action to increase gas prices for Oregon families and businesses is unacceptable. Washington leaders should know that their action will impact Oregonian’s lives. Continued collaboration between our states will always lead to better outcomes for both Washington and Oregon.”
Two members of the Oregon State House also spoke against the legislation Thursday during a virtual meeting of the Washington State House Transportation Committee.
“This is an offensive proposal that would force Oregonians to pay for Washington’s infrastructure projects,” said Rep. Shelly Bohart Davis, R-Albany. “I cannot stand by and watch as the hardworking people of Oregon are hit with an unfair and unjust tax with zero representation.”
Rep. Brock Smith, R-Port Orford, said the issue highlights “poor policymaking” in Washington.
“The Washington Legislature set goals and approved projects they couldn’t afford,” he said. “Instead of doing a better job writing public policy, they’re going to ask my residents to pay for their roads when they have never nor will ever use them.”