Governor Walker Signs Bills on State Ferries and Alaska Mental Health Trust Land Exchange
Ferry legislation names new ships, reestablishes discharge requirements; land swap has broad support
August 10, 2017 KETCHIKAN — Governor Bill Walker today signed a trio of bills in Southeast Alaska. Senate Bill 3 reestablishes “best management” standards for the handling of waste water discharged from small commercial passenger vessels – including state ferries – while Senate Bill 33 officially names the two new Alaska Class Ferries currently under construction M/V Tazlina and M/V Hubbard. Senate Bill 88 complements federal legislation to approve a land trade between the United States Forest Service and the Alaska Mental Health Trust. SB 3 was signed in Sitka; SB 33 and 88 were signed in Ketchikan.
“Our small commercial boats and state ferries provide vital transportation services to Alaskans, businesses, and visitors,” Governor Walker said. “These bills acknowledge the effort and hard work of our ferry operators, as well as the pride Alaskans have in our Marine Highway System. I’m honored to sign them both.”
Governor Walker introduced SB 33 after he and Lt. Governor Byron Mallott reviewed hundreds of essays submitted by Alaskan students in a ferry-naming contest. The winners were 7th-grader Malea Voran and 10th-grader Taylor Thompson. Voran chose the Tazlina Glacier, which is named for the Ahtna Athabascan word for “swift river”; Thompson chose Hubbard Glacier, which has been advancing for 100 years. All Alaska ferries are named for glaciers.
SB 3 reestablishes effective standards the state has relied on for over a decade to make sure waste water discharged from small commercial passenger vessels is managed to avoid environmental harm to Alaska waters. Those standards had “sun-sunsetted” under the prior statute. No changes have been made to the standards applicable to large cruise ships, which can accommodate larger, more complicated treatment systems on board.
SB 88 trades more than 17,000 acres of Mental Health Trust land for roughly 20,500 acres of US Forest Service land, protecting recreation and tourism opportunities while preserving watersheds around communities. The bill also generates revenue and jobs through timber sales on other areas of the land.
“The revenue generated from these timber sales will help Alaska’s vulnerable residents,” said Governor Walker. “I thank Senator Lisa Murkowski and Congressman Don Young for their work at the federal level, and Senator Bert Stedman for sponsoring this state-level legislation needed to make the land trade a reality.”