Maritime Workers Applaud Congressional Passage, Presidential Signature of Coast Guard Bill.
On behalf of the American Waterways Operators (AWO) and its 350 member companies, AWO President & CEO Tom Allegretti thanked bipartisan leaders in Congress for passing and President Obama for signing the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act into law late last month.
The bill contained several AWO-supported provisions, including legislation that simplifies the process for mariners and other transportation workers to apply for and activate their Transportation Worker Identification Credentials (TWIC). The TWIC language streamlines the current cumbersome, bureaucratic regulatory process under which workers must make two trips to a TWIC enrollment center to pick up and then activate their TWIC card.
“We are very grateful that Congress took this positive, bipartisan action and that the President acted quickly to sign this legislation into law,” said Tom Allegretti, AWO’s President & CEO. “This is a very important measure that removes a significant roadblock in the TWIC application and renewal process. It will help reduce the unnecessary red tape nearly two million Americans face in obtaining TWIC cards, saving workers both time and money.”
Mr. Allegretti noted that the Coast Guard Maritime and Transportation Act contained other AWO-supported provisions which were also signed into law, including:
- A provision that adds transparency to the Jones Act waiver process;
- Language that gives the U.S. Coast Guard authority to extend the duration of mariner medical certificates; and
- An extension of the NPDES moratorium for fishing vessels and vessels under 79 feet until December 2014.
The bill also provides for studies on the use of container-on-barge transportation in the short sea trade and training needs of the maritime workforce as well as an evaluation of the Coast Guard’s merchant mariner medical evaluation program.
“Even though 2012 was marked by a high level of partisan gridlock, Congress and the Administration worked together to pass meaningful reforms to the TWIC process and enact this critical bill,” Allegretti continued. “As we move ahead in 2013, we look forward to working with the Transportation Security Administration to ensure effective implementation of the TWIC provision.”