Seaports Magazine - Spring 2015 - (Page 33)

» GUEST VIEWPOINT Advocating Seaports Issues Before Policymakers By Rick Maldonado Rick Maldonado and Associates Inc. S eaports are vital to the economic health of our nation. According to the "American Society of Civil Engineers Report Card for America's Infrastructure," our nation's grade for infrastructure was a D+ - between "mediocre" and "poor." Ports were graded a C, or "in fair to good condition; however showing signs of deterioration and requires attention." Ports' message before policymakers should include the need of a national effort to maintain our country's infrastructure. A simultaneous effort is necessary in developing a blueprint for long-term infrastructure needs. Seaport issues can be complex in view of the many concerns that impact ports, including dredging or other Army Corps of Engineers programs, surface transportation, maritime transportation, Homeland Security and national security, environmental issues, trade agreements and the cruise industry. Each of these subject areas is covered under a multitude of proposed legislation, public law and federal programs in various agencies. It is important for port staff and their federal representatives to make contact with policymakers in all branches of government. Congress, the Executive Branch and the many federal agencies should be provided essential information on the ports specific concerns. The information will educate lawmakers so that they can make informed decisions. For example, dredging is an area very familiar with port staff. It is a key activity most ports address on a regular basis. However, Army Corps of Engineers programs are complex and the many provisions in proposed legislative language can be confusing. Congressional staff assigned to Army Corps of Engineers issues should be As we move into this new congressional year, ports involvement in helping frame our issues before lawmakers will be crucial. prepared to provide Congressmen or Senators with packaged information that supports the needs of the port in his/her district or state. However, to accomplish this task, it is necessary for port staff and federal representatives to assist legislative staff. The recent passage of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) is a key example of a successful collaborative effort. Both chambers overwhelmingly passed the measure - by a House vote of 412-4 and a Senate vote of 91-7. This would not have been possible if Congressional staff were not provided with the substantive information that answered complicated questions on the many Army Corps of Engineersimpacted programs. The authorizing legislation addressed the Harbor Maintenance Tax revenue issue, authorized $12 billion in new construction projects and streamlined the project review process under the 3x3x3 rule, which limits feasibility studies to three years and $3 million. WRRDA included many other key initiatives seaports urged Congress to address. These accomplishments within the legislation are the result in large part to the many discussions held between legislative staff, port staff/federal representatives, trade organizations, including AAPA, and the Army Corps of Engineers. The bill truly rose above partisan politics. As we move into this new Congressional year, ports involvement in helping frame our issues before lawmakers will be crucial. Reauthorization of the surface transportation bill with an emphasis on freight mobility, which support intermodal programs and projects, will be on the forefront. Ports have a powerful story to tell during the deliberation of the many issues that impact seaports. Port representatives visiting with policymakers have an arsenal of positive information to support port positions. The nation's 360 commercial sea and river ports with public and privately owned marine facilities move more than 2 billion tons of domestic and import/export cargo annually. Combined with other ports in the Western Hemisphere, seaports handle 7.8 billion tons each year and provide approximately $8.6 trillion in economic activity. Ports generate $212 billion in U.S. federal, state and local taxes. Additionally, port activity supports the employment of approximately 13 million people with seaport-related jobs, accounting for $650 billion in personal income. Ports should try to communicate with policymakers from all 50 states, noting each of our 50 states is dependent on at least 15 seaports to handle its imports and exports. Policymakers cannot make informed decisions unless they clearly understand all sides of an issue. During President Barack Obama's State of the Union address, he mentioned the need for modern ports. It is our job to have him and other lawmakers repeat our port concerns again and again. As stated in the "American Society of Civil Engineers Report Card," a D+ is simply not acceptable for our country's infrastructure. ● Rick Maldonado is a consultant with Rick Maldonado and Associates Inc. SPRING 2015 * WWW.AAPASEAPORTS.COM 33 http://WWW.AAPASEAPORTS.COM

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Seaports Magazine - Spring 2015

AAPA Headquarters
From the President’s Desk
Building a Strong Brand
Laying a Foundation for Success
How Tenants and the Freight Community Bring a Brand to Life
The Value of Awards for Ports
Ensuring Cost-Efficient Transportation to Global Markets
‘Welcome to Our Port’
Port of Port Arthur’s Camp Sea Port Sails into the Future
Advocating Seaports Issues Before Policymakers
Index of Advertisers

Seaports Magazine - Spring 2015