Wednesday, August 23, 2006

'Welcome to Alaska ... Now Pay Us $50' ...

Still Counting: The Anchorage Daily News reports voters have narrowly approved a measure slapping a $50-per-passenger tax on cruise ships. It would raise $50 million in head taxes alone. The proposal had a slight lead in polls, despite a $1 million campaign to defeat. Besides the head tax, the cruise-ship measure would tighten environmental standards, levy a corporate income tax and a gambling-profits tax, and require disclosures by cruise ships of payments received for steering passengers to shoreside businesses the ships promote. Joe Geldhof, Juneau attorney, said “it's encouraging to see that the average Alaskan saw through the slick media campaign ... paid for with Miami money." He cautioned that the lead could change when all votes are counted. Holland America's John Shively, a vp leading defeat efforts, declined comment. Some voters said there's no reason ships should be exempt from paying corporate income tax, while others said the measure unfairly targets tourists. "It seems like 'Welcome to Alaska. Now pay us $50,' " said Walt Barber of Anchorage.

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