Senators announce law on improving port infrastructure to support maritime industry

LANSING, Michigan – Senators Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit), Wayne Schmidt (R-Traverse City) and Dale Zorn (R-Ida) today announced a bill that would boost Michigan’s shipping industry and ensure it remains competitive compared to other Great Lakes states.

The invoices are the result of months of working with stakeholders in the marine industry, as well as environmental and community groups, to provide vital support and advice to Michigan ports. Senator Chang’s bills, Senate Bills 744 and 746, respectively, would create a subsidy program for port infrastructure projects and require each port to develop a five-year environmental impact transparency plan in order to mitigate negative impacts and protect Michigan’s natural resources.

“I serve much of the Detroit waterfront and know that Michigan’s location near the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway system is a competitive advantage in the manufacturing and agricultural sectors. We can better use this force to stimulate our local economies while simultaneously protecting our waterways and the areas closest to our ports, ”said Senator Chang. “We can create jobs and economic opportunities through a strengthened maritime industry while protecting this precious resource that our residents enjoy for their leisure and their lives. “

In 2017, a report by Martin Associates in Pennsylvania found that 59.2 million tonnes of cargo had passed through Michigan’s waterways, worth $ 3.23 billion. The economic activity generated by the commercial ports was $ 4.16 million, supporting 25,910 jobs and generating $ 763 million in federal, state and local tax revenues. To further support this thriving industry, Senator Schmidt introduced Senate Bill 743, which creates a Great Lakes Marine Office within the Michigan Department of Transportation.

“Michigan’s ports are essential to our state’s economy and this package of bills underscores their importance,” said Senator Schmidt, chair of the Senate Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee. “My bill would create a Great Lakes Marine Office within the Michigan Department of Transportation. This would show that we understand and value the contribution that ports and the maritime industry make to our economy. “

Ships on the Great Lakes are efficient on fuel and cargo, so encouraging a thriving port industry will not only benefit our economy, but could also have regional environmental benefits, according to an environmental and social impact study by Canadian Research. and Traffic Group. By increasing port capacity and improving infrastructure, Michigan can further protect its precious natural resources and create more jobs in our communities. At the same time, Senator Chang acknowledges that while regional environmental improvements could be the result of increased maritime activity, there are potential localized impacts on neighborhoods near ports, so plans transparency of environmental impacts is a crucial element of the bill. package.

Senator Zorn’s bill, Senate Bill 745, would allow port authorities to use tax obligations for transportation-related improvements and to further exploit the efficiency of ships in our Great Lakes.

“This legislation is intended to defend jobs in Michigan and to ensure that our ports, like the Port of Monroe, have the ability to compete with other US ports for cargo,” said Senator Zorn. “My bill would allow our ports to use tax obligations to fund transportation-related projects, which would allow ports to handle more cargo, such as shipping containers. Allowing more ships to use our ports would help lower costs for Michigan businesses and consumers and provide more well-paying jobs for Michigan workers. “

“At a time when our country faces unprecedented transportation challenges, Senators Chang, Schmidt and Zorn have taken the lead in strengthening the marine transportation system that has been the backbone of Michigan’s economy for over a decade. ‘a century,’ said the harbor manager at Monroe. Paul C. LaMarre III. “This legislation will strengthen Michigan’s ports, support our supply chain and ensure that our identity as a ‘Great Lakes State’ is as strong as the infrastructure that supports it. “