Cuts related to cruise ship tax fund distribution

January 1, 1970

By Mike Bradner
Alaska Legislative Digest

An interesting sweep of vetoes (by Gov. Sarah Palin) was the distribution of cruise ship tax revenue, which must show some relationship to service to vessels and passengers even given the longest stretch of interpretation of federal law rooted in the commerce clause and the tonnage clauses of the U.S. Constitution.

Generalized broadly, one state can't tax the commerce of another simply for crossing a state line (and for general revenue), but only for the necessary costs of facilitating that commerce, i.e. dockage fees, lighterage, fire service, toll bridges, etc. The oddity here, is we are told, is that the state attorney general advised finance committees to show distribution and use of funds in event of a class action suit.

Interestingly, the cruise ship tax law could be struck down, but if so, it will be the state holding the empty bag, and the communities that received funds through the distribution will have their projects but no obligation to repay the state."

Cruise ship funding cuts: Cuts included $350,000 in general funds for a Cruise Ship Regional Impact study, the purpose of which would have been to determine impacts and justify funding distribution for sites more distant from vessel ports.

Cuts drawn from the cruise ship tax funds included Sitka vessel lightering facility, $2 million; Wrangell Commercial vessel berthing/power, $1.2 million, Juneau Centennial Hall ship emergency relief center, $1.2 million; Hoonah mooring buoy system, $500,000; Kake cruise ship first responder skimmer, $1.5 million; Fairbanks hatchery/cruise ship passenger facility, $3.6 million (regional cruise ship tax fund); Seward, ship berthing, $4.5 million; Kodiak, cruise ship pier/master plan. $250,000.

Cruise ship tax funding retained: Vetoed was about half of the distribution from the cruise ship tax, roughly $17.7 million. Projects funded were Anchorage/Ship Creek cruise ship salmon learning center, $3.5 million; Haines dock repairs, $1.5 million; Juneau cruise ship/airport baggage handing, $1.2 million; Juneau, dock retaining wall repair, $1.5 million, Ketchikan, berths 1 and 2 replacement, $3 million; Ketchikan/Saxman, visitors center improvements, $1.5 million; Skagway, sea walk/intermodal access, $2 million; Valdez, cruise ship dock renovation and uplands, $1.67 million; and Yakutat, fuel dock and cruise ship platform, $650,000.

Source: Alaska Legislative Digest