Bill introduced to allow communities to contribute to Marine Highway

A Southeast lawmaker wants communities to be able to contribute directly to the Alaska Marine Highway System.

Download Audio

A passenger on the deck of an Alaska Marine Highway ferry. (Flickr Creative Commons – supafly)
A passenger on the deck of an Alaska Marine Highway ferry. (Flickr Creative Commons – supafly)

Rep. Sam Kito III, a Juneau Democrat, authored House Bill 292. It had its first hearing last week in the House Transportation Committee.

He called it a simple, one-line bill that could help the financially-strapped ferry system.

“The intent is not that it goes back into a specific community, but that that money go into general pot to be used for the betterment of the marine highway system in some way,” said Kito.

That could be increased marketing or another effort.

Committee member Shelley Hughes, a Palmer Republican, asked whether the bill would exclude communities that don’t contribute.

Kito said it wouldn’t. And he said his legislation isn’t just about money.

“I see it more as a tool to bring the communities more to the table with the Department of Transportation, get them talking,” Kito said. “Maybe even formally over some kind of a memorandum of understanding or memorandum of agreement, that you become engaged as a shareholder in the marine highway system.”

The bill remains in the House Transportation Committee and is not expected to progress this session.

Previous articleRetired EPA ecologist Phil North speaks out
Next articleSeawolves fall to Lubbock Christian in NCAA Division II championship game
Ed Schoenfeld is Regional News Director for CoastAlaska, a consortium of public radio stations in Ketchikan, Juneau, Sitka, Petersburg and Wrangell. He primarily covers Southeast Alaska regional topics, including the state ferry system, transboundary mining, the Tongass National Forest and Native corporations and issues. He has also worked as a manager, editor and reporter for the Juneau Empire newspaper and Juneau public radio station KTOO. He’s also reported for commercial station KINY in Juneau and public stations KPFA in Berkley, WYSO in Yellow Springs, Ohio, and WUHY in Philadelphia. He’s lived in Alaska since 1979 and is a contributor to Alaska Public Radio Network newscasts, the Northwest (Public Radio) News Network and National Native News. He is a board member of the Alaska Press Club. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, he lives in Douglas.