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Foes of Alaska tax on cruises step up efforts


July 14, 2006

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Critics of a cruise-ship head tax are ramping up their million-dollar campaign to defeat an Alaska ballot measure next month that would impose a $50-per-passenger fee and other requirements on the giant vessels.



Glossy brochures urging Alaskans to vote no on Ballot Measure 2 showed up in mailboxes across the state this week.

"It's Bad for Alaska," the pamphlets declare.

They feature three prominent Alaska business owners and a Juneau, Alaska, artist explaining why they think the ballot measure, if voters approve it in the Aug. 22 primary, will hurt the state economy.

A majority of the Anchorage Assembly agrees. In a 10-1 vote, the Assembly passed a resolution this week that says, while not opposed to a cruise-ship tax in principle, members view the ballot measure as not in the best interests of Anchorage or the state. Janice Shamberg cast the dissenting vote.

"We had no documentation telling us why it was bad" for the economy, Shamberg said Thursday.

The measure would raise an estimated $50 million a year from head taxes alone. Cruise ships would also have to turn over 33 percent of their gambling revenue after taxes and prizes, and pay a state corporate income tax.

The ballot measure contains other provisions, including requirements that the ships get state pollution-discharge permits, have ocean rangers aboard and disclose the amount of commissions they make from selling shore excursions. Critics say those provisions are onerous, unnecessary and anti-business. Supporters say they're fiscally responsible, environmentally friendly and long overdue.

The North West CruiseShip Association, based in Vancouver, British Columbia, is financing the campaign to defeat the measure, which got onto the ballot after more than 23,000 Alaskans signed petition booklets. The measure also survived a court challenge by the cruise industry and its supporters.

Since April, the cruise association has contributed more than $1.1 million, according to disclosures filed with the Alaska Public Offices Commission. Oregon-based Pac/West Communications is running the campaign, which features radio and television spots and newspaper ads.



Related Story:

Ketchikan: Opponents of "Cruise Tax" Say Alaska's Economy Is Under Attack By DICK KAUFFMAN - Voters will soon be deciding whether the state should start taxing cruise ships and tighten regulations on these gargantuan vessels that are the lifeblood of Alaska's tourism industry. A sweeping petition targeting the cruise ship industry met the required 23,286 signatures to make it on the ballot and will go before voters in the August 22 statewide primary. - More...
Wednesday - July 12, 2006

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Ketchikan, Alaska