At the state level, Wayne Stubbs, Mike Rubin, and Laura DiBella met with Senator Aaron Bean on Friday, June 1st to discuss ways to help the Port of Fernandina use the FSTED Program for priority projects identified by the Port. We provided the Senator with information on how the FSTED program assists all of Florida’s deep-water seaports, and how all of Florida’s seaports work together to help the entire seaport system. The Senator expressed his concern over the current status of the Port and the need to repair infrastructure that may impact the safety of port workers.
As discussed during our FPC Orlando meeting, the FSTED Security Committee will hold several teleconferences to continue best practice discussions on how Florida seaports are implementing the TWIC Reader Rule requirements, and the CBP 559 program. We will continue working with seaport security directors to help with ongoing discussions and efforts in meeting federal requirements.
Ares continues to roll-out the implementation of the CommandBridge Common Operating Picture System. They have begun teleconference discussions with all parties, and individual port meetings with identified seaports. They will continue to work with seaport security directors and/or IT staff as implementation of the system begins around the state.
FPC staff continues with candidate engagement in an effort to educate candidates from around the state on the importance of seaport, trade, and infrastructure issues. The FPC has thus far participated in the Florida Association of Professional Lobbyists (FAPL) Candidate Interviews held in Orlando, Tallahassee, and Tampa, and will be in Ft. Lauderdale on June 11th & 12th. This is a great way to get a head start on introductions with possible new members of the legislature and provide them with information supporting continued seaport and infrastructure investments in Florida, including the recently released Seaport Mission Plan.
At the federal level, the FPC worked with our Congressional Florida Port Caucus on presentations to the U.S. House on WRDA legislation, and the potential to include language in the legislation to assist Florida seaports on Army Corps review and permitting issues associated with harbor deepening and maintenance. We also worked with our delegation members on individual member letters and a Florida Port Caucus letter to the Army Corps concerning funding in the 2018 Work Program.
The House WRDA legislation (HR 8) and Water Appropriations legislation (HR 5895) are currently scheduled to be heard in the House Rules Committee on June 5th. We expect several amendments to be offered to both pieces of legislation. The Senate WRDA legislation (S 2800) and Water Appropriations legislation are available for a hearing by the full Senate. It is unclear at this time if the House and Senate will pass out their respective versions of this legislation prior to any summer break. In addition, it appears unlikely that Congress will pass the legislation and send it to the President before the elections in November. We will keep you apprised of any movement on this legislation.
Finally, as discussed during our FPC meeting in Orlando, we are working with our Congressional Florida Port Caucus on a letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security concerning CBP staffing at Florida seaports. We also have prepared a letter from the FPC on the issue, specifically expressing our concern over the ongoing and serious problem of inadequate United States CBP staffing at seaport Ports of Entry (POE) in Florida. We will send the FPC letter once the Caucus leadership has finalized their letter.