Rep. O’Malley’s plan to bolster the state’s maritime commerce is now law

Rep. O’Malley’s plan to bolster the state’s maritime commerce is now law

State Representative Jack O’Malley’s framework to strengthen Michigan’s commitment to its vital maritime industry was signed into law today by Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

House Bill 5291, now Public Law 158 of 2022, creates a port facility improvement grant program to expand and create public and private ports in the state. It also creates the Marine and Port Facilities Improvement Office within the Michigan Department of Transportation – dedicating a specific office to water commerce.

“Michigan shouldn’t be content to be beaten by other states around us when it comes to maritime commerce on our Great Lakes,” said O’Malley, of Lake Ann. “Illinois only has about 80 miles of coastline and they invest more in maritime than we do. This is a renewed commitment to maritime commerce and helps unlock our incredible economic potential in this sector. I am excited for what the future holds – and now we need to work on a funding mechanism to further support this plan.

When hearing testimony on the plan in the House Transportation Committee, chaired by O’Malley, port officials stressed the desperate need for a system that will help Michigan compete nationally and international.

“It wasn’t a priority and we paid the price for being passive,” O’Malley said. “This is a first step in ensuring the viability of our ports and harnessing the untapped economic potential of Michigan’s waterways and coastal areas.

“I believe we can return our state to the center of water transportation that was once a great force.”

The bill enjoyed broad bipartisan support in the House and passed the Senate unanimously en route to the governor’s office.