Members of Washington Delegation introduce bill to make Washington ports more competitive

WASHINGTON, D.C.—This week, members of the Washington Delegation, Reps. Rick Larsen, (WA-02), Dave Reichert (WA-08), Jim McDermott (WA-07), Derek Kilmer (WA-06), Denny Heck (WA-10), Susan DelBene (WA-01), and Adam Smith (WA-09) introduced H.R. 5417, the bipartisan Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund Reform Act, which would ensure the annual funds collected through the Harbor Maintenance Tax (HMT) are used to support our ports and strengthen our region’s global competitiveness.                               

“As one of the most trade-dependent states in the country, Washington is heavily reliant on the efficient movement of goods, and our ports play a critical role in that process. For too long the Harbor Maintenance Tax has placed Washington ports at a significant economic disadvantage by incentivizing shippers to deliver U.S.-bound goods through Canada and Mexico. With 40 percent of jobs in Washington tied to trade, we simply cannot afford to continue allowing this to happen.  The Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund Reform Act would give our ports the resources and level-playing field they need to compete by ensuring the tax collected is available for infrastructure investments and by allowing donor ports to provide rebates to shippers and importers,” the members said.

“The HMT threatens thousands of middle class jobs in our region and hurts Washington businesses that depend on Northwest Seaport Alliance facilities by diverting cargo from Puget Sound ports to ports in Canada,” said Port of Seattle Commission President John Creighton.  “This legislation will provide us with tools to grow our cargo volumes, protect jobs and keep our gateway competitive.”

This bipartisan bill will introduce a degree of equity into the HMT system that has long been lacking,” said Connie Bacon, President of the Port of Tacoma Commission.  “By allowing our ports to finally receive a fair return, this proposal will help The Northwest Seaport Alliance maintain a competitive trade gateway for manufacturers and growers throughout the state.”

Washington State Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell have also introduced a companion bill, S. 2729 in the U.S. Senate.

Specifically, the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund Reform Act:

  • Establishes full use of the annual Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) to support the operation and maintenance of our ports and harbors.
  • Makes permanent provisions to allow for expanded uses of the HMTF for donor ports and energy transfer ports.
  • Makes permanent the 10 percent set-aside for small ports.

###