Washington State House Democrats


This region can’t afford to view the ports through a local lens

Sarah Aitchison wrote a great piece on ports for the Puget Sound Business Journal last month. You can read it here: The ports get no love: As ILWU, PMA put to bed their bitter contract dispute, we look at the history of support for maritime

Rep. Judy Clibborn of Mercer Island and I wrote a letter to the editor in response. It was published last weekend.

Thank you for highlighting the importance of the maritime industry to Washington’s economy (“Why maritime gets no respect,” May 22). While ports are often viewed through a local lens, their operations have statewide impacts. You can rest assured the Legislature is paying close attention to the needs of our trade-dependent state when it comes to maintaining a competitive and high-functioning port system.

For example, during this legislative session lawmakers approved a bill that will allow the ports of Seattle and Tacoma to create a Seaport Alliance ­ a collaborative partnership for certain maritime operations.

Our state laws governing ports were written over a century ago, when competition was largely between Washington’s port districts. Times have changed dramatically since then and we recognize that we need to adapt to compete in a global market. This bill will allow our ports to better compete in a 21st century global economy.

Last year, we approved a bill to create a task force that will look at the economic resilience of maritime and manufacturing industries. The objective is to work with local jurisdictions on industrial land use policy. The Legislature is also responsible for funding the Freight Mobility Strategic Investment Board that ensures we are investing in critical transportation corridors in local communities throughout the state.

While it’s easy to see maritime operations as local entities, the reality is they impact businesses, families, and communities in every corner of Washington. That fact is not lost on state legislators.