Washington container fee bill emerges
The concept has failed twice in California, but that's not stopping a Washington state senator from proposing a bill that would assess a $50-per-TEU fee on every container arriving at Washington ports to pay for freight congestion relief.
The bill, authored by state Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, would require terminal operators to pay the fee (though they would keep 10 percent for administrative costs) to the state, where it would be divvied up to alleviate congestion on state highways and freight rail systems.
A similar bill has been nixed twice in California the last two legislative cycles, with opponents of that bill arguing that the fee serves as an unconstitutional tax on international trade because it originates from a state legislature and not Congress.
Additionally, opponents of the California container fee bill argued that the spending mechanism for the money collected was not specific enough to prevent money collected from container fees to be spent by the state in areas other than goods movement.
The Washington bill could face the same problem, since Haugen's bill states only that the fees would flow into the state's department of revenue. Haugen is also seeking a higher fee than the California bill proposed ($30 per TEU), and Washington's ports are considered less valuable to shippers than those in Southern California.