Alaska Cruise Ship Tax Initiative, Measure 2 (August 2006)

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The Alaska Cruise Ship Tax Initiative, also known as Measure 2, was on the August 22, 2006 ballot in Alaska as an indirect initiated state statute, where it was approved. The measure placed various taxes on cruise ships and cruise ship passengers.[1]

Aftermath

In 2009, an executive from Carnival Cruises announced that the firm was thinking about suing the State of Alaska over Measure 2. Carnival Cruises was concerned that the taxes imposed via Measure 2 were driving cruise ship companies out of Alaska and into more profitable areas.[2]

Patti Mackey, Executive Director of the Ketchikan Visitors Bureau, said, "I think Alaska has become a more difficult place for the cruise lines to do business. The tax and all of the associated regulations that were part of the ballot initiative are all part that equation, and certainly the economy right now isn't helping."

Ralph Samuels of Holland America said the costs related to Measure 2 "exacerbate" declining revenues in the cruise ship sector. Samuels claimed that declining revenue margins would result in cruise lines pulling their ships out of the state. Juneau Lawyer Joe Geldhof, who authored Measure 2, said Samuels was playing "Chicken Little politics." He elaborated, "People run around saying, 'The sky is falling, the sky is falling,' and after the chamber lunch, people say, 'The sky is falling we have to get something done'. Ralph is trying to create hysteria, to stampede legislators over the cliff and repeal the head tax."[3]

A lawsuit was filed against Measure 2 on September 18, 2009. According to the Alaska Attorney General, a legal challenge would not be able to kill the measure, but could change how the state legislature spends revenue from the tax. He stated, "The economic benefits of the cruise ship industry to Alaska are clear, but so are the passenger impacts on the state. The 1 million visitors a year this industry brings is a huge influx in a short period of time. The state and local communities spend significant amounts of money to host these visitors."[4]

On June 24, 2010, Gov. Sean Parnell (R) signed legislation that lowered the $46 tax to $34.50, with additional savings of $15 for ships that stop in certain locations.[5]

Election results

Alaska Measure 2 (August 2006)
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 81,963 52.07%
No75,43247.93%

Election results via: Alaska Department of Elections

Text of measure

The language appeared on the ballot as:[1]

This initiative would impose a $46 per person per voyage tax on large cruise ships to pay for vessel services. It would provide for the proceeds from the tax to be deposited in the state general fund and, subject to appropriation by the legislature, distributed to municipalities. It would levy a tax on cruise ship gambling activities in state waters. It would change the way cruise ship corporate income tax is calculated. It would require cruise ship operators to gather and report more information, and get a new type of permit for sewage, graywater or other wastewater before discharging in state marine waters. It would assess a $4 per passenger berth fee and require large cruise ships to have state-employed marine engineers (Ocean Rangers) licensed by the Coast Guard to observe health, safety and wastewater treatment and discharge operations. It would authorize citizen lawsuits against an owner or operator of a large cruise ship, or against the Department of Environmental Conservation, for an alleged violation of any permit condition, provision of environmental statutes or performance of duties. It would also enable a person who provides information leading to enforcement of the law to receive 25 to 50 percent of fines imposed. It would impose additional requirements on disclosures about on-ship promotions of shore-side businesses.

SHOULD THIS INITIATIVE BECOME LAW?

YES
NO[6]

Support

A group called Responsible Cruising in Alaska supported Measure 2.

Campaign contributions

Responsible Cruising in Alaska raised and spent just $8,497.[7]

Opposition

The group opposed to the shipping tax was called Alaskans Protecting our Economy.

Campaign contributions

Alaskans Protecting our Economy raised and spent $1,357,924, with the largest single donation of $1,344,244 coming from the Northwest Cruiseship Association.

See also

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External links

References


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