Head Taxes Roll

A bill was introduced last month in the Alaska State Senate to impose a $25 per person per port fee on all arriving cruise visitors. The measure is currently awaiting a State Senate hearing.

Written by Sen. Bert Sharp, R-Fairbanks, the measure cites tourism into Alaska as marked by the significant growth of visitors - in particular cruise passengers - as well as "by a series of accidents involving those visitors that have drawn upon the emergency response resources of adjacent municipalities." As a result, Sen. Sharp wants what amounts to be a sizable statewide head tax to "improve the capacity, safety and security of the ports and associated facilities of the state and to provide a means by which to advance the ability of municipalities to respond when emergency conditions may so require."

The bill also suggests that by levying a statewide tax, individual port communities - some of which have already tried to pass head taxes - would not fall victim to any potential retaliatory actions by cruise operators, such as the removal of a ship from that particular port.

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