Gov. Sarah Palin on Monday signed into law two bills sponsored by Sen. Kim Elton, D-Juneau.
Both bills, in a way, relate to cruise ships. One, Senate Bill 116, would regulate money transfer businesses, such as those cruise ship crew members often use to send money to their homes. The other, Senate Bill 122, would change regulations on cruise ship discharges.
Senate Bill 116 is the Uniform Money Transfer Act, which is designed to bring the money transfer industry under state regulation, Elton said. It was requested by local businesses engaged in money transfer.
The cruise ship regulation bill would restore an exemption to cruise ship discharge rules that was repealed, inadvertently by all accounts, in an initiative passed by voters last year.
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The money transfer law passed the Legislature unanimously, after introduction by Elton in the Senate and Rep. Beth Kerttula, D-Juneau in the House.
Elton and Rep. Andrea Doll, D-Juneau, appeared at Juneau's waterfront Marine Park with Palin for a formal bill signing ceremony.
Senate Bill 116 is intended to protect customers of money transfer businesses and help comply with federal regulations designed to stop money transfers from being used to finance terrorism.
Elton said reputable, regulated businesses will make sure money turned over to a transfer agent will get where it is supposed to go.
"It protects consumers," he said.
Elton said the bill was first requested by Juneau money-transfer businesses that wanted to ensure a level playing field for all such businesses.
It's also designed to protect the industry itself by keeping bad actors out of the field, he said.
The cruise ship bill reinstates an exemption to sewage discharge rules for small vessels.
The small cruise ships are important to the economy of the region, but simply aren't big enough to carry the type of sewage treatment equipment used by the bigger cruise ships.
"They can't comply because of the size of the technology," he said.
Initiative supporter Chip Thoma said he had no objection to the change.
The Legislature is not allowed to repeal citizen initiatives within two years of their passage, but it is allowed to amend them. Palin said the Department of Law determined that the small vessel exemption was allowed.
Thoma said the initiative was finalized and submitted before the Legislature developed its own cruise ship discharge rules that exempted vessels of fewer than 250 passengers. The initiative sponsors did not intend for their measure to hit the small vessels, he said.
"It was inadvertent," he said. "It was submitted prior to the legislative action."
Elton said the special rules for small cruise ships would help support the vessels that visit smaller ports that need the business boost they bring.
"It keeps these people involved in our economy," he said.
The exemption lasts until 2016.
Palin arrived in Juneau on Monday for the bill signings and meetings, and planned to return to Anchorage in the evening. She said her Juneau office is undergoing renovations that include asbestos removal and lighting improvements that make it unusable at the moment.
"Working out of the Anchorage office has worked well with us," she said.
Pat Forgey can be reached at 523-2250 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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