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Resolution Passed Opposing WA Container Tax


February 23, 2007
Friday AM

(SitNews) The Alaska House of Representatives on Wednesday unanimously passed HJR 8, opposing the adoption of a container tax currently under consideration in the Washington State Senate. The proposed tax would be levied on every container crossing the docks in Puget Sound, at a rate of $50 per 20 ft. equivalent. Most goods coming to Alaska travel in 40 ft. containers, which means the total fee for crossing the dock out-bound and upon return would be $200.




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."

Palin wrote, "The cost of shipping has a direct effect on the cost of living in Alaska. This is particularly true of our rural communities where prices on many shipped goods are already exorbitant. Additional taxes or fees applied to the cost of shipping only makes for increased costs for our residents."

In her letter to Governor Gregoire, Palin said the bill's economic impact on Alaska might have been an unintended consequence. Palin wrote, "I respectively request due consideration be given to our state if this bill comes to you for signature."


Source of News:

Office of Rep. Kyle Johansen

Office of Rep. Bill Thomas

Gov. Palin's letter to Washington Governor Gregoire

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Ketchikan, Alaska