Senator Murkowski today questioned Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano about many Alaskans' air travel concerns, reminding her that "because 80 percent of our communities are not connected by roads," the proposed increases to security fees for flying affect Alaskans disproportionately.
Senator Murkowski first confirmed with Secretary Napolitano that passenger security fees are not stacked on Alaskans for each leg of their trip. "So if I'm going from Aniak to Bethel to Anchorage to Seattle, that's one fee? That helps. It's still going to raise some anxieties but it helps to know that."
She then urged Secretary Napolitano to be very judicious if the Secretary is authorized to make the determination to raise Transportation Security Administration fees -- unilaterally, without Congressional approval -- because of the accumulating burden on Alaskan passengers.
Napolitano informed her she wants to start with a hike to $5.50/trip this year and then raise it "by an inflator amount' across the board in future years.
Murkowski responded "the concern I will raise on behalf of my constituents who fly everywhere is: be very cognizant that we have a situation in Alaska where our airfares would drive everybody else to tears, and any fee -- it may look small on a piece of paper -- but these fees, we all know, add up and are an incredible impediment to most of my constituents."
The testimony concluded with the Secretary offering to have her staff brief the Senator's staff about their approach to security fees, to demonstrate the concerns they take into account in the process. Today's interaction took place when Secretary Napolitano testified before Senator Murkowski in the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security.