Legislature(2021 - 2022)BARNES 124

03/20/2021 12:30 PM House TRANSPORTATION

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Audio Topic
12:33:54 PM Start
12:35:08 PM HJR13
12:52:36 PM Presentation: Alaska Marine Highway System
02:53:43 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
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              HJR 13-URGE EXEMPTION FOR CRUISE SHIPS                                                                        
12:35:08 PM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR HOPKINS  announced that the  first order of  business would                                                               
be  HOUSE JOINT  RESOLUTION  NO. 13,  "Urging  the United  States                                                               
Congress to  exempt cruise ships  from certain provisions  of the                                                               
Passenger Vessel Services Act and  other applicable provisions of                                                               
federal  law  for the  period  during  which Canadian  ports  are                                                               
closed to cruise ships carrying  more than 100 people; and urging                                                               
the President  of the United States  not to fine or  take actions                                                               
against cruise ships sailing to the state."                                                                                     
12:36:11 PM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  DAN ORTIZ  shared  on February  4, 2021  Canada's                                                               
transport ministry  announced it  would prohibit  large passenger                                                               
vessels  from transiting  their  waters until  2022.   Under  the                                                               
Passenger Vessel  Services Act (PVSA), large  foreign vessels are                                                               
required to stop in a large  foreign port such as Canada at least                                                               
once during their  voyage.  The announcement  from Canada coupled                                                               
with  the PVSA  requirement would  prevent Alaska  from receiving                                                               
cruise ships  throughout the  entire 2021  season.   This follows                                                               
the 2020  season in which  Alaska also  saw no large  cruise ship                                                               
activity,  he  pointed  out.     The  Alaska  Visitors  Industry,                                                               
particularly  cruise tourism,  is  the  cornerstone of  Southeast                                                               
Alaska's economy,  he stated.   Prior to  the pandemic,  in 2019,                                                               
Alaska had  more than  2.2m visitors, over  half of  whom arrived                                                               
via cruise ship.  While  many businesses were able to "hibernate"                                                               
for 2020,  the threat of such  limited visitors in 2021  could do                                                               
irreparable harm,  he stated.   The Congressional  delegation has                                                               
been hard at  work to try to  find a way to save  the 2021 cruise                                                               
ship season,  he shared.   He added Representative Don  Young has                                                               
brought forth the  Alaska Tourism Recovery Act,  which proposes a                                                               
temporary workaround which would  make round-trip voyages between                                                               
Alaska and Washington a foreign voyage  under US law.  If passed,                                                               
Representative Ortiz  continued, HJR 13 would  signal the support                                                               
of  the Alaska  State  Legislature and  would  urge Congress  and                                                               
President  Joe  Biden to  take  necessary  actions to  allow  for                                                               
cruise ships to visit Alaska ports.                                                                                             
12:39:17 PM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE MCCABE asked if HJR 13 had an end date.                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE  ORTIZ  replied yes,  and  it  coincided with  the                                                               
duration of Canada's cruise prohibition.                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE  MCCABE asked  if  there would  be opportunity  to                                                               
extend should Canada become less cooperative with their date.                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE ORTIZ  replied he was  not sure if it  allowed for                                                               
flexibility;  in the  event of  continued  prohibition there  may                                                               
need to be another resolution.                                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE MCCABE said he supports  HJR 13 in general, but is                                                               
skeptical  of allowing  foreign vessels,  which have  less strict                                                               
rules, point-to-point in  the US.  He expressed his  hopes HJR 13                                                               
wouldn't undo 100 years of maritime law.                                                                                        
12:41:43 PM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE HANNAN  expressed appreciation  for Representative                                                               
McCabe's point and said  it would not be the intent  of HJR 13 to                                                               
undo any  work done by the  Passenger Vessel Services Act  or the                                                               
Jones Act, which would have a  ripple effect across the entire US                                                               
economy.   It  was a  resolution and  therefore a  more temporary                                                               
solution,  she pointed  out.   She  mentioned it  should be  made                                                               
clear  HJR  13   was  not  to  be  extended   in  perpetuity  and                                                               
acknowledged  US standards  of health  care on  board the  cruise                                                               
ship  vessels to  make sure  they are  meeting health  and safety                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  ORTIZ answered  as a  resolution, HJR  13 had  no                                                               
authority  to  undo  anything,  and  its  extension  would  be  a                                                               
Congressional decision.                                                                                                         
12:44:44 PM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE CRONK expressed support  for HJR 13 especially for                                                               
Interior Alaska.                                                                                                                
CHAIR HOPKINS agreed.                                                                                                           
12:45:39 PM                                                                                                                   
PATTI MACKEY,  shared Alaska has withstood  more negative effects                                                               
from  COVID-19 than  any  other state  in the  US.   Focusing  on                                                               
Ketchikan,  Alaska, Ms.  Mackey shared  tourism brought  in about                                                               
$263m annually,  and 96%  of visitors came  to Alaska  via cruise                                                               
ship.   The  loss of  passenger and  crew member  spending, along                                                               
with port  fees and ancillary  services purchased by  the various                                                               
cruise lines,  took a devastating  toll on the community  in 2020                                                               
and created a  huge loss in municipal revenues.   Tourism jobs in                                                               
Ketchikan  numbered around  1350,  she shared,  with another  400                                                               
indirectly, resulting  in about $76m  in labor income;  and while                                                               
the aid has been helpful  in some instances, businesses wanted to                                                               
get back to doing what they  did best, she imparted.  A temporary                                                               
waiver  or  other  workaround  to  resolve  the  restrictions  on                                                               
foreign-flagged ships is  more than a cruise  industry issue, she                                                               
said, and  is not the  only answer  to the challenges,  but would                                                               
have a direct [positive] impact on Alaskan families, she said.                                                                  
12:47:56 PM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR HOPKINS opened public testimony on HJR 13.                                                                                
12:48:12 PM                                                                                                                   
KATI  CAPOZZI, President  and CEO,  Alaska  Chamber of  Commerce,                                                               
testified  in support  of  HJR 13.   She  shared  the Chamber  of                                                               
Commerce was founded  in 1953 and its mission is  to advocate for                                                               
a  healthy  business  environment  in Alaska.    She  shared  the                                                               
tourism industry  needed immediate Congressional action  to allow                                                               
cruise ships to return to Alaska.                                                                                               
12:49:55 PM                                                                                                                   
SHANNON ADAMSON, Masters, Mates, and  Pilots Union, put forth the                                                               
state of  Alaska owned vessels  that met  all Jones Act  and PVSA                                                               
requirements:   the AMHS vessels  currently tied up  in Ketchikan                                                               
could boost tourism  and help communities.   Putting the Colombia                                                               
into  service, she  gave as  an example,  which could  spend half                                                               
days  in Skagway,  Ketchikan, and  Juneau,  just to  name a  few,                                                               
could be  offered as the  way to see Juneau  by way of  one's own                                                               
vehicle, she  added.  Mitigation  measures were already  in place                                                               
on AMHS vessels,  and it would be a way  to boost tourism without                                                               
affecting AMHS or DOT&PF budgets, she pointed out.                                                                              
12:52:05 PM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR HOPKINS closed public testimony on HJR 13.                                                                                

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HJR 13 - Letter of Support Southeast Conference 3.20.2021.pdf HTRA 3/20/2021 12:30:00 PM
HJR 13
HJR 13 Sponsor Statement 03.20.2021.pdf HTRA 3/20/2021 12:30:00 PM
HJR 13
HJR 13 - Letter of Support Alaska Policy Forum 3.20.2021.pdf HTRA 3/20/2021 12:30:00 PM
HJR 13
HJR 13 - Letter of Support Southeast Conference 3.20.2021.pdf HTRA 3/20/2021 12:30:00 PM
HJR 13
HJR 13 Letter of Support Kodiak Chamber 3.20.2021.pdf HTRA 3/20/2021 12:30:00 PM
HJR 13
HJR 13 Letter of Support ATIA 3.20.2021.pdf HTRA 3/20/2021 12:30:00 PM
HJR 13
HJR13 AML Letter of Support 3.20.2021.pdf HTRA 3/20/2021 12:30:00 PM
HJR 13
2021-03-24 - DOTPF Follow Up from 3-20-2021 meeting re AMHS.pdf HTRA 3/20/2021 12:30:00 PM
AMHS Presentation Q&A Response