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Port legislation could provide new shipping options for Missouri employers

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Last year’s West Coast port labor strikes and new shipping opportunities that will soon be available through the expansion of the Panama Canal, have given Missouri lawmakers reason to consider bolstering Missouri’s port systems.

The Missouri Senate gave first-round approval to legislation sponsored by Sen. Paul Wieland, a Republican from Imperial, to create a tax incentive for shippers who use one of the state’s ports for transportation.

“Missouri ports are one of our state’s greatest assets. They provide a low-cost, environmentally sound way to transport goods to market. A fully loaded barge is the equivalent of 58 tractor trailers. Our ports are a critical part of our economy, and are poised to become even more so,” said Sen. Wieland. “With our central location, and two of the largest rivers in our state, we have a unique opportunity. The Panama Canal is widening. The trade embargo on Cuba has been lifted. The demand for quality agricultural goods is increasing worldwide. Through the use of our ports, we can become a national leader in the exportation of goods by waterway.”

The Missouri Chamber supports Senate Bill 861, which would provide tax incentives for shippers that use Missouri’s port authorities. The deductions would be administered by the Department of Economic Development.

The legislation would allow ports to create advanced industrial manufacturing zones to establish a dedicated funding source for port improvement and development.

“We can’t let this chance pass us by,” said Sen. Wieland. “For too long, our ports have been the backbone of our state’s transportation industry. My legislation would let them have a dedicated funding source and encourage more businesses to ship their goods by waterway. It’s a carefully crafted measure designed to give our ports the support they need to continue creating jobs and set us up to take advantage of a rapidly changing 21st Century marketplace.”

According to a report by the Show-Me Institute, about 97 percent of the $1.2 trillion of freight moved through Missouri  is carried over road and rail. Only 1 percent of freight moves by barge in the state.

“Missouri’s waterways are currently underutilized. Senate Bill 861 is a good opportunity to increase freight traffic on our waterways and make the most of this natural asset,” said Tracy King, Missouri Chamber vice president of governmental affairs.

For more information on this legislation, you can contact King, at tking@mochamber.com, or by phone at 573-634-3511.



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