Tester: Border Fee Would Create ‘Unnecessary Burden’ on Montana Business

By Beacon Staff

A proposal by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to study the feasibility of imposing a tax on travelers entering the country from Canada has drawn the ire of Montana’s junior senator.

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester made his opposition to the border fees clear in a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, calling the proposed tax an “unnecessary burden” to businesses along Montana’s northern tier and throughout the state.

“Montana has 12 ports-of-entry on our 545-mile border with Canada and those ports drive tourism and business throughout Montana,” Tester, a member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, said in a press release. “Montana does almost $6 billion in trade with Canada each year. Adding a new fee to cross the border will discourage Canadians from coming to Montana to do business.”

Noting Montana’s high level of trade and expansive border with Canada, Tester said the tax would inhibit economic development and job creation in the Treasure State.

Tester, who recently held a small business workshop in Bozeman, said Montana’s tourism sector is fast becoming one of the state’s leading industries, and may surpass agriculture in the near future. Tourism helped buoy the state – and the Flathead Valley – through the recession, he said, and a border fee would threaten Montana’s “communities, trade, and commerce at a time when we should be doing all we can to grow our economy.”

In his letter to Napolitano, Tester also highlighted a bipartisan provision that recently passed the Senate Judiciary Committee that blocks any border fee study.

Tester said cross-border trade with Canada is so important to Montana’s economy that he recently convinced U.S. Customs and Border Protection to match Canada’s extended summer hours at the Port of Wild Horse north of Havre to allow more trade and commercial traffic to use the port.

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