The first session of the 111th Congress was “engaged” when it came to maritime issues, according to the American Waterways Operators. Anne Burns, AWO spokeswoman, said that since the Democrats took over both houses of Congress, “there has been a steady increase in legislative activity affecting the maritime industry.”
Some of the highlights during the first session included the Maritime Workforce Development Act that establishes a maritime recruitment, training and loan program. The Senate must still sign off on the House-passed bill that would also make inland mariners eligible for education loans. The Coast Guard reauthorization bill passed by the House calls for adding 1,500 new positions at the Coast Guard, $153 million for a new icebreaker, and gives vessels under 79 feet a three-year extension of the Vessel General Permit exemption. Congress also provided $4.6 billion to the Corps civil works program under the federal stimulus program. Among the projects to receive stimulus funding is the major rehab of Locks 27.
Read more about the first session of the 111th Congress and the marine industry in the January issue and online at http://www.workboat.com/newsdetail.aspx?id=4294987727