Speaker Stutes: ‘The fact this bill passed both bodies unanimously shows the incredible work we’ve all done to emphasize how important our ferries are to Alaskans’
JUNEAU – A bill establishing a nine-member Alaska Marine Highway Operations Board passed the Alaska State Senate Tuesday, 20-0.
House Bill 63 is designed to bring together a diverse group of stakeholders who rely on the ferry to keep the system working for Coastal Alaska.
“Restoring reliable and consistent ferry service has been my top priority since I was sent to Juneau, and my seventh year here has proven to be the lucky charm,” said House Speaker Louise Stutes (R-Kodiak), who sponsored the bill. “The fact this bill passed both bodies unanimously shows the incredible work we’ve all done to emphasize how important our ferries are to Alaskans. I am absolutely delighted with today’s outcome.”
“The marine highway touches virtually every aspect of life in my district,” Rep. Dan Ortiz (I-Ketchikan) said. “Having long-time marine highway expertise helps guide decision-making for the ferries and can only benefit the system and the many Alaskans who rely on it.”
Rep. Andi Story (D-Juneau) added, “The Alaska Legislature has made tremendous progress this year toward correcting the Alaska Marine Highway System’s course. In addition to the important board created by HB 63, we have secured a deal to forward fund the ferries and create the infrastructure that will help determine long-term strategies for success.”
HB 63 previously passed the House, where the bill will return for final approval before being sent to the governor’s desk.