INDUSTRY GROUPS PRAISE CONGRESS FOR PASSING PORT SECURITY BILL
Industry groups commend Congress for passing legislation that improves security in the nation’s seaports.
After four months in conference, the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002 passed the Senate and House on Nov. 14 during the so-called lame-duck session.
“Congress recognizes that taking immediate measures to protect America’s ports is critical to our nation’s security and economic vitality, given that U.S. ports handle 95 percent of overseas trade by volume and support the mobilization and deployment of armed forces,” said Kurt J. Nagle, president of the American Association of Port Authorities.
Many industry groups, however, opposed proposed user fee to cover the cost of port security. The proposed fee was pulled from the legislative negotiations in mid-October.
“This measure ensures the viability and competitiveness of maritime commerce without burdening the industry with a new tax to finance the security enhancements,” said Ed Mortimer, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s senior manager for transportation and infrastructure.
The proposed security fee would have imposed a $3.5-billion annual tax increase on the maritime industry. U.S. seaports already generate more than $22 billion in federal revenues annually.
“The only other industry within the transportation sector forced to pay security taxes in the airline industry, but neither air nor ground cargo is subject to a tax like the one proposed for the maritime industry,” the Washington-based chamber said.
The AAPA praised the legislation’s establishment of a federal grant program to help ports make security enhancements. Nagle also said the development of security advisory committees and port security plans should help in the development of “appropriate security measures reflective of the varying character and nature of individual ports and facilities.”
For a summary of the Maritime Transportation Security Act provisions, access on line http://www.AmericanShipper.com.