Maritime ports plan active session

Written on December 10, 2010 at 9:38 pm, by

The upcoming edition of the Texas Legislature promises to be a tumultuous one, highlighted by battles over a massive projected budget shortfall and the required redrawing of legislative and congressional boundaries.

 The 82nd legislature does not convene until Jan. 11, but the filing of bills has begun.

 Last time they met, lawmakers filed 7,609 bills and proposed constitutional amendments. That’s a 19 percent increase over the 2007 figure and 29 percent more than 10 years ago. According to the trend, it is likely that even more bills will be filed in the upcoming session.

 One would think the men and women who represent us in Austin will be too busy with state-level issues to file and pursue legislation that would impact local governments.  However, history says that will not be the case, so the maritime ports of Texas plan to take an active role in the upcoming session.

 The Texas Ports Association, which represents the interests of maritime ports from Brownsville to Orange, has several issues we are watching closely.

 Changes to Chapter 55 of the Transportation Code

This statute was passed in 2001 to help finance port infrastructure, but has never been capitalized.  The Texas Ports Association would like to make changes to clarify and streamline the statute and accurately depict the work of the Port Authority Advisory Committee.

 Omnibus port bill

Texas Ports Association is also working on an omnibus bill that would make several minor changes in the Water Code and other sections of statute that govern ports.  These proposed changes are designed to streamline and simplify laws affecting ports.


In the interim since the last legislative session, the Texas Transportation Commission commissioned a comprehensive review of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) by the consulting firm Grant Thornton. The study recommended the department place maritime freight activities in a multimodal division that also includes such activities as bicycle paths, general aviation and public transportation while creating a separate division for railroad issues.  The Port Authority Advisory Committee has asked that maritime interests be given equal consideration as other freight modes.

Watch this space for more updates as we get closer to the beginning of the session.

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