Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - Juneau Senator Jesse Kiehl presented his cruise ship resolution to the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee Friday.
It seeks a temporary exemption to the federal law that bans foreign hulled vessels from traveling from one American port to another. Right now cruise ships must stop at a Canadian port while traveling from Washington State to Alaska, but Canada has closed its ports and waters to vessels carrying over 100 passengers.
Senator Kiehl set the stage for the committee by saying Senate Joint Resolution 9 calls for a life ring. He told the committee about 1 point 3 million tourists visited Alaska via cruise ship in 2019. During 2020 because of the pandemic, Kiehl said that number dropped perilously close to zero.
Senator Gary Stevens asked if there has been confirmation that the cruises will return if this issue is solved. Senator Kiehl responded by saying the cruise lines have not made any commitments and have not made their final commercial decisions. "My hope is that we can continue to move this resolution quickly and that Congress and the executive branch will act quickly."
News that Alaska's United States senators have introduced legislation broke during the committee meeting.
The bill will be taken up again next week by the committee. It's already sponsored by all committee members. It will be scheduled for debate and a vote on the Senate floor once the committee passes it out.