The opening of the Major League Baseball season is still a couple of weeks away, but already a bench-clearing brawl has erupted in Florida.

At the center of the fray is a proposed head tax on cruise passengers that would help finance a new, $400 million stadium for Miami's Florida Marlins.

Under a bill to be submitted in the current session of the Florida legislature, a head tax of about $4 to $6 each way will be assessed on all multiday cruise passengers who arrive and depart from the Port of Miami.

The Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau already has cried foul, as have the International Council of Cruise Lines, the Travel Industry Association of America and Carnival Corp.

As well they should. For years, professional sports teams looking to build new, more attractive stadiums have turned to tourism taxes for funding that doesn't invoke the ire of the local taxpayer. Simply put, visitors "are easy targets," as TIA president William Norman put it, because they don't vote in the districts where they vacation.

One can often justify industry fees and taxes when the proceeds clearly benefit the traveling public. But taxing cruise passengers to build a baseball stadium near the port is way off base.

Revisiting hours

The decision this month to cut the visiting hours at the U.S. Capitol came suddenly and without a plausible explanation, and we echo the National Tour Association's call for the hours to be restored.

The Architect of the Capitol's Web site calls the building "a symbol of the American people and their government, the meeting place of the nation's legislature, an art and history museum and a tourist attraction visited by millions every year."

All the more reason to keep it as accessible as possible.

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