``Juneau actually made it a felony to sell a T-shirt to a cruise ship passenger.''
So joked state Rep. Jeannette James, a North Pole Republican, during an appearance before the Juneau Chamber of Commerce on Thursday. James used a mix of humor and persuasion to tout a 1,200-mile rail connection to the Lower 48.
James began her remarks from the vantage point of Feb. 10, 2025, reflecting on all the changes in Alaska in the previous quarter-century - ``a quarter- century that has seen Alaska grow into a world-class economy thanks, in part, to the completion of a railroad connecting Alaska with the rest of North America.''
Also during this period, James said, Juneau had its severe tourism backlash; Delta Junction developed carrot and potato processing plants; Whitehorse got an NHL hockey team; and King Harry of England and his bride, a former Miss Nome, honeymooned on the Northern Lights Express to Tok.
Saying that ``a rising economy floats all boats equally'' and that a rail connection could be the key to prosperity, James has introduced a resolution in the House supporting U.S. Sen. Frank Murkowski's bill for a feasibility study and a public/private commission. Murkowski is an Alaska Republican.