Calif. container fee bill heads to Schwarzenegger for signature
The California bill seeking to impose a $30-per-TEU statewide fee on all containers moving through the state's three largest ports is now headed to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's desk for a signature, following a 22-9 concurrence vote in the state Senate Tuesday.
Schwarzenegger has already indicated he supports the bill and is expected to sign it.
Tuesday's Senate vote was the last step for the bill and follows on a full Assembly vote last month where the bill passed by a slim four vote margin, 45-29.
the Ports Investment Bill (SB974), which would impose the per-TEU fee on containers moving through the ports of Long Beach, Los Angeles and Oakland, is projected to raise $400 million to $500 million a year to be split between goods movement infrastructure and air quality projects throughout the state. Under terms of the bill, the fee would be borne by beneficial cargo owners.
The bill details more than 140 infrastructure projects for funding under the bill, most centered in the Inland Empire-area east of Los Angeles.
A last minute amendment to the bill, added just before the Assembly vote, also provides that the Southern California group putting together the list of projects eligible for the collected fee can substitute a 'similar' project for any specifically listed in the bill. The group comprises representatives from the ports and cities of Long Beach and Los Angeles, the Alameda Corridor Transportation Authority, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority, the Riverside County Transportation Commission, the Orange County Transportation Authority, the San Bernardino Associated Governments, and the cities of Anaheim, Riverside and San Bernardino.
Project funding priority, under another key last minute amendment, is specified as going to those projects that are closest to construction.
SB974 is the third incarnation of Lowenthal's statewide container fee proposal; it has appeared and disappeared several times over the past several years. Last September, the legislation was shelved after Schwarzenegger threatened a veto. The move was also seen at the time as an effort to allow the Southern California ports more time to impose their own local container taxes, which both have since done.
The Public Policy Institute of California last week released a statewide survey showing that 61 percent of California citizens support the container fee and no state region sampled in the study fell below 58 percent support for the Lowenthal bill. ' Keith Higginbotham