Marine Transportation System

Caution: Slow Down MOVEMENT

In Uncategorized on June 25, 2009 at 2:16 pm

Rep. Laura Richardson (D-CA) apparently returned to Congress in January convinced she had a basically sound idea when the very new congresswoman from Long Beach introduced a bill last year to pay for port-related goods movement infrastructure projects with a $20/TEU container tax.   Of the revenue, 90% would go to freight related projects mostly within 40 miles of port, 7% would be allocated to projects mitigating environmental “damage,” and 3% would support homeland security projects.  When she introduced HR 2355–the MOVEMENT Act–in May 2009 she did so with some tweaks.  Most significantly is a switch of the revenue mechanism from a container tax to existing Harbor Maintenance Tax and with a leap from its current 0.125% of cargo value to 0.4375%.  The 0.3125% increase would be dedicated to this new purpose.  The basic intent of the bill to provide resources for gateway related infrastructure is a good one but venturing into HMT territory is a descent into troubled waters.  By all indications the U.S. port sector and the shippers who would pay the tax think the bill is flawed, some think it seriously so.  Then there is the risk of triggering a complaint to the WTO by U.S. trading partners.  Meanwhile advocates of a fix to the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund see only complications with the proposed tampernig of a Federal charge that today is not fully utilized for the unmet demands of port navigation infrastructure.  In its current form, the bill is unlikely to garner support to let it move. – Pbea

Caution: Slow Down MOVEMENT

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