The businesses of the Jacksonville Port Authority (JAXPORT), along with the citizens of North Florida, stand to benefit greatly from this weekâ€™s bipartisan passage of the Realize Americaâ€™s Maritime Promise (RAMP) Act in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Thanks to the unwavering support of early co-sponsors Congresswoman Corrine Brown (D-FL), Congressman Ander Crenshaw (R-FL) and Congressman Cliff Stearns (R-FL), the RAMP Act was included in the surface transportation measure passed by the House. More than 190 House members signed on as co-sponsors to the legislation.
The RAMP Act, originally introduced by Congressman Charles Boustany (R-LA), ensures revenue collected from port users for the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) is spent only for its designated, critical purposes: harbor maintenance and dredging. This key, bipartisan legislation will allow the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to use HMTF dollars to make critical improvements at JAXPORT. These improvements will increase business and throughput of goods, resulting in job creation and positive economic return for the entire nation. Shippers pay significant fees in Harbor Maintenance Taxes into the fund each year. The RAMP Act guarantees that the amount available for use from the fund will be equal to revenues paid in by port users.
â€śA trust fund should be exactly that—a matter of public trust, not a fund to be raided at will,â€ť said JAXPORT CEO Paul Anderson. â€śI applaud our congressional leaders for their focus on the future competitiveness of our ports. Thankfully, it is dawning on Washington that the needs of our nationâ€™s seaports must be addressed now, not sometime in the distant future. Allowing these funds to be used for their dedicated purposes will spur opportunities in the private sector, stimulating the growth and jobs so critical to our continued national economic recovery.â€ť
The House passage of the underlying extension (H.R. 4348) will now pave the way for the Senate to request a conference on a longer term surface transportation bill. Upon agreement and passage of a conference report, the RAMP Act will be signed in to law.
Dredging Today Staff, April 26, 2012; Image: jaxport