Proposed Port Security Infrastructure Improvement Program

Thursday, August 15, 2002
Senator Hollings (D-SC) has formally proposed to the Conference Committee that a Port Security Infrastructure Improvement Program be included in the Port and Maritime Security legislation that is currently under consideration. This is a 'fleshed-out' and somewhat amended version of his earlier barebones proposal. The Program, if adopted, would impose a fee on shippers of cargoes into or out of the United States in various amounts depending upon what was being shipped. The monies collected would go into a Port Security Trust Fund to pay for various port security expenditures. Similar fees would be imposed on cargoes entering the United States through Canada and Mexico. Sixty percent of the monies would be used to provide financial assistance to port authorities or waterfront facility operators to address identified vulnerabilities. Eighteen percent would be available for competitive grants to address security requirements. Fifteen percent would be available to federal agencies for security activities. It is unclear (at least to this writer) where the remaining 7 percent goes. Similar to the initial proposal, the fees would be as follows: Container (non-HAZMAT) $15.00 per TEU Container (HAZMAT) $20.00 per TEU Passengers $3.00 per passenger Vehicles $3.00 per vehicle Dry Bulk Cargo $0.01 per metric ton Crude Oil $0.30 per metric ton Petroleum Products $0.45 per metric ton Chemical Products $0.50 per metric ton Liquid Gases $0.60 per metric ton Break Bulk Cargo $0.75 per metric ton While Senator Hollings contends his proposal is a user fee, the feeling among many in the House of Representatives, including apparently the Ways and Means Committee and the House Parliamentarian, is that the proposal is actually a tax. If so, it could not be attached to the Port and Maritime Security bill. It is unclear how far Senator Hollings is willing to push his proposal at this point, but it has become the major remaining issue of contention in the Conference Committee. Source: HK Law

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