A three-line piece of legislation would prohibit the state from selling, transferring or disposing of a state ferry without express approval by lawmakers.
The bill’s primary sponsor, Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins (D-Sitka) said Tuesday that cost-cutting by Gov. Dunleavy’s administration is effectively dismantling the Alaska Marine Highway System.
“Even with a change in structure, with more funding, or sort of other different approaches, if core assets of the system are rashly disposed of, there will not be a system to put back together again,” he told the House Transportation Committee.
“How does this address the fact that the legislature doesn’t exactly have a sterling reputation for speedy action, when that’s called for?” Claman said.
In a fiscal note accompanying the bill, the Department of Transportation says it’s currently paying more than $566,000 annually to moor the fleet’s two fast ferries. It says if the agency needed lawmakers to green light a deal, costs could accumulate quickly while waiting for legislative approval.
The last ferry to be disposed of was the Taku in 2018. It fetched $170,000 and was sold for scrap.