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Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions

AMHS Update from the Legislature

By Rep. Dan Ortiz


February 10, 2020
Monday PM

Let’s talk about the prospects of this year’s legislative session and budget deliberations as they relate to the AMHS. Our ferry system has been at the forefront of many legislative conversations:

On the very first day of the Alaska State Legislative session, the House Transportation Committee held a hearing titled “The Importance of AMHS to Alaska & the Need for Increased Funding.” Municipalities had the opportunity to describe how our ferry system is vital for our communities, economies, and families. Thank you specifically to Mayor Prysunka for speaking on behalf of Wrangell.

Last month, on January 15th, the Marine Transportation Advisory Board hosted a meeting to outline the recently published “AMHS Economic Reshaping Report.” At the meeting, the Department of Transportation stated that the Prince Rupert route would be continued starting May 1st.

Last month, the Department of Transportation also sought public input on their proposed ferry schedule for May 2020 through September 2020.

Last week, the Governor published his Fiscal Year 2020 Supplemental Budget. In it, Governor Dunleavy requested that the Legislature provide an additional seven million dollars for operations and an additional five million dollars for the repair of the Aurora (this is after the Governor vetoed five million dollars that the Alaska House Majority put in the budget at the end of the prior legislative session).

If the supplemental request is approved, the money will allow the AMHS to close the gaps and meet the proposed schedule obligations for the rest of the fiscal year, which ends on June 30, 2020. It will not pay for any additional service to the existing reduced schedule.

I’m hopeful that the House Majority will be supportive of passing a slight budget increment, which would fund the AMHS at a level that would avoid the significant service reductions we saw this year. My goal is to provide adequate service to rural Southeast Alaska, Prince Rupert, and to Southwest coastal Alaska.

Now that Legislative session has begun, I will continue providing frequent updates on legislative issues pertaining to Southern Southeast. You can also reach me by email at or phone at 907-465-3824.

Rep. Dan Ortiz
Ketchikan, Alaska


Editor's Note:

The text of this letter was NOT edited by the SitNews Editor.

Received February 10, 2020 - Published February 10, 2020

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