At the state level, Ares continues to work with all stakeholders on the roll-out and implementation of the CommandBridge Common Operating Picture System. They continue to hold face-to-face and teleconference discussions with all parties, and individual seaports. They will continue to work with port security directors and/or IT staff as the system begins implementation around the state. For more information on the implementation of this system contact Mike Rubin.
Rubin and Wheeler participated in the Florida Association of Professional Lobbyists (FAPL) Candidate Interviews held in Orlando, Tallahassee, Tampa, and Ft. Lauderdale as part of ongoing candidate engagement in an effort to educate candidates from around the state on the importance of seaport, trade, and infrastructure issues. More than 60 candidates vying for State House and Senate, Governor and Cabinet were interviewed and introductions were made with many where they were provided with information supporting continued seaport and infrastructure investments in Florida, including the recently released Seaport Mission Plan.
At the federal level, the U.S. Senate and House have passed out their respective Water/Energy Appropriation versions of a “minibus appropriations” bill for FY 2019 (HR 5895). This legislation wraps up three appropriation measures – Energy and Water appropriations, Military Construction and Veteran Affairs appropriations, and Legislative Branch appropriations. With respect to Army Corps funding, the House legislation provides $7.28 billion, with authorization for 5 new construction starts. The Senate legislation provides $6.927 billion for the Army Corps, with authorization for 6 new construction starts. The funding provided in both the House and Senate bill represents an overall increase in funding over the 2018 amount appropriated to the Corps.
The Senate amended their final version onto the House bill on June 25th, and the minibus appropriations is available for a conference committee discussion by House and Senate designated conferee members. There is a potential for the minibus appropriations to be passed prior to the end of the budget year on September 30th.
The FPC continues to work with the Congressional Florida Port Caucus, Senator Rubio, Port Canaveral, and others to voice concerns over CBP staffing and infrastructure requirements. Senator Rubio included language in the final version of the Senate Homeland Security appropriations legislation (S 3109) to require the CBP to work with seaports and associated stakeholders on these issues.
The language provides the following statement –
“Maritime Ports of Entry.–The Committee continues to support robust staffing levels at both cargo and passenger seaports and strongly encourages CBP to work with seaports and associated stakeholders to improve clearance operations. The Committee notes that scanning equipment at maritime ports is reaching its expected normal performance life and that CBP should provide as much information about equipment replacement events as practicable to port owners and operators so that recapitalization can be performed in a consistent and transparent manner. CBP’s requirements for space in new facilities can add significant costs to projects, and the Committee directs CBP to engage thoughtfully with ports when negotiating agreements with port owners and operators.”
The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security has not announced their “mark-up” of their Homeland Security appropriations to date.
The Coast Guard published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on June 22nd regarding TWIC Readers. The proposed rule would delay the effective date by three years for two specific categories of maritime facilities.
- Facilities that handle certain dangerous cargoes in bulk, but do not transfer these cargoes to or from a vessel.
- Facilities that receive vessels carrying certain dangerous cargoes in bulk, but do not, during that vessel-to-facility interface, transfer these bulk cargoes to or from those vessels.
The other facilities, cruise terminals, captured under the applicability of the Final Rule are still required to comply with TWIC Reader Rule requirements by August 23rd.
The FPC notified Port security directors that the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee had passed HR 5729 on June 6th, which would have delayed the effective date of the TWIC Reader Rule for all maritime facilities. This bill was passed unanimously by the Committee and has been made available for a vote by the full House. Representatives from the chemical industry had made significant lobbying efforts to push this bill through Congress before the August deadline. It was also our understanding that the Senate was looking to move the legislation quickly. It is unclear at this time if the Coast Guard proposed rule – delaying the effective date for chemical facilities and other dangerous cargoes – will have an impact on the passage of this legislation, but it does remove a significant lobbying presence on the legislation.