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Harbor Maintenance Tax legislation introduced in Congress

From the American Association of Port Authorities:

Yesterday, bipartisan, bicameral legislation was introduced to ensure that all Harbor Maintenance Tax (HMT) money collected is returned to ports for the maintenance of federal navigation channels and supporting maritime infrastructure.

The Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund Reform Act of 2017 was introduced in both the House and Senate. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) introduced S. 1488 in the Senate. The House bill, H.R. 3152, was introduced by Representatives Dave Reichert (R-WA) and Nanette Barragán (D-CA).

The Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund Reform Act of 2017 would

  • Establish full use of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) each year with interest by creating a direct spending mechanism for the HMTF;
  • Ensure HMTF funds collected are allocated fully and more equitably by establishing a set-aside for donor ports;
  • Address the issue of cargo diversion by increasing investments to donor ports to provide rebates to shippers transporting cargo through their ports or for port infrastructure needs;
  • Support operation and maintenance at small ports and harbors by updating the baseline for the set-aside for small ports; and
  • Better meet the nation’s harbor and waterway needs.

The HMT generates about $1.6 billion annually, which is considered sufficient to fully fund harbor maintenance needs. Only about half the annual HMT revenue was being used for its intended purpose five years ago. The Water Resources Reform and Development Act established funding targets that, if followed, would lead to full HMT revenue use over a ten-year period. This legislation would make full revenues immediately available.

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