February 23, 2007
The resolution's prime sponsor, Rep. Bill Thomas (R-Haines), said the proposed tax amounts to an unnecessary tax, which would be substantially paid by Alaskan consumers.
"Alaska depends heavily on goods shipped through ports in Washington State, which has been the case since the Klondike gold rush of 1897," Thomas said. "Over the past 110 years, commerce with Alaska has been very profitable for Puget Sound ports. Many people do not realize Alaska is the Puget Sound's fifth largest trading partner. The close economic connection between our two states is responsible for at least 103,500 jobs and more than $4 billion in commerce."
Chairman of the House Transportation Committee, Rep. Johansen (R-Ketchikan) is a co-sponsor of the resolution. He attached an amendment to the resolution urging the Attorney General for the State of Alaska to research the legal issues raised by such a tax and to file an injunction to stop the tax from being levied for even one day on Alaskans. "Now the resolution puts the Washington Legislature on notice that if they pass this poorly thought out tax, Alaska will immediately challenge it in court", said Rep. Johansen. "There are strong Federal Commerce Clause issues and International Trade and Treaty issues. I want Alaska ready to assert them and stop this tax immediately".
The Washington State Senate is considering the legislation because of what the bill states as "a need to mitigate the enormous burden imposed on the state transportation system by the overland movement of cargo shipped to and from Washington State ports." The fee will be imposed on marine terminal operators, who will be allowed to keep 10% of the fee as compensation for accounting costs, leaving 90% for spending on state port infrastructure improvements.
The resolution asks Washington to find some other means to fund infrastructure improvements to its ports, Thomas said. HJR 8 will be referred to the Alaska Senate for its consideration.
In a letter to Washington Governor
Gregoire on February 21st, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin asked
Gregorie to consider the negative impacts this legislation would
have on Alaska. Palin wrote "The vast majority of goods
shipped to our state pass through Washington marine ports. Ocean
shipping is more critical to Alaska than any other state in the
union. Additionally, most of our incoming goods arrive by container
and sizeable quantities of our fish products are also shipped
to the Puget Sound by container. This legislation would have
a large and disproportionate impact on Alaska, one of Washington's
strongest historical trading partners."
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