May 22, 2010 — The Alaska Supreme Court settled a decades-long dispute Friday between the state and the operator of the Riverboat Discovery about how much rent, if any, is fair for a wharf on the Chena River.

The court’s decision preserves the state’s authority to charge rent for commercial docks on navigable waters. But a fee based on passenger head counts violates federal law, the decision stated.

The high court set the rent charged to Alaska Riverways, Inc., it $1,000 per year for docking its sternwheelers above the state-owned riverbed.

“Whether Alaska Riverways has 100 or 100,000 passengers, the benefit conferred by the state is the same,” Justice Dana Fabe wrote in the decision.

The state had sought $1,000 annually or 25 cents per passenger, whichever is more, in anticipation of collecting as much as $75,000 per year.

Both sides are claiming victory.


May 22, 1995 — JUNEAU — During much of his first legislative session, Gov. Tony Knowles played a quiet role.

Knowles hired the last few members of his Cabinet. He made predictable speeches about partnering with industry, protecting jobs and families, and budget discipline.

But Alaska’s Democratic governor turned up the volume the last few weeks of the session.

He threatened to veto a bill diverting criminals’ Permanent Fund dividends to fund state programs. He promised a special session unless lawmakers passed a bill to lower state royalties on marginal oil fields.

And, in partnership with minority Democrats, he demanded budget concessions in exchange for votes needed to tap the constitutional budget reserve.

Knowles supporters say the contrast with former Gov. Walter J. Hickel’s activist role was part of a strategy to get things done.

“A good hunting animal will wait until it sees and is able to figure out the patterns of its prey before it pounces,” said Anchorage Democratic political consultant Tom Begich.

The governor’s critics say it wasn’t strategy. They say Knowles just started figuring out what to do at the end of a long, slow learning curve.

“When he does become actively involved, I’m sure he’ll do a fine job. He’s just not there yet,” said Sen. Robin Taylor, R-Wrangell.


May 22, 1970 — JUNEAU — The Senate Thursday passed and sent to the House, two bills — one authorizing state construction of the pipeline access road from the Yukon River to the Arctic Coast, the other appropriating $120 million to do the job.

It was the largest single appropriation for a public works project in state history.

It took nearly five hours of rhetoric and several recesses before the bills passed, in much the same form recommended by the Senate State Affairs Committee. The vote of 14 to 6 authorizing the road construction was what had been predicted much earlier.

The appropriation bill picked up a few more supporters when it passed with little debate after the enabling legislation. The vote was 16 to 3.

The bill would enable the state to contract with a corporation formed by the Trans Alaska Pipeline System to funnel state funds to subcontractors for construction of the 366 mile road.

Gov. Keith Miller proposed that the state construct the road under an 1866 law after TAPS was enjoined against the road and pipeline construction.

The agreement between the state administration and TAPS participants provides for payment to the state of its $120 million investment within 30 days of the time TAPS receives an "economically feasible" and "legally defensible" permit for construction of the pipeline, if the permit is granted on or before June 1,1971.


May 22, 1945 — ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The Anchorage Chamber of Commerce voted yesterday to request the Alaska Development Board to intervene in the North Pacific hearing before the Civil Aeronautics Board in favor of granting northern air routes to Alaska carriers.

The chamber contends the newly created board's purpose is to encourage and foster development of Alaska economy.

Certification of Alaskan carriers for routes to the United States, the resolution said, would be a benefit to the entire territory through development of the aviation industry within Alaska.