Washington State House Democrats


Final Recommendations: Maritime and Manufacturing Task Force

A Mearsk container ship loads and unloads at the same time at the Port of Tacoma docks. 20Oct99 by Dick Milligan

I had the great honor of co-chairing the Joint Legislative Task Force on the Economic Resilience of Maritime and Manufacturing in Washington these last few years.

The task force was made up of a group of lawmakers who studied the best ways to ensure the state’s $30 billion maritime and manufacturing industries remain healthy and vibrant for the next several generations.

After two years of gathering input from industry experts, stakeholders, and the general public, the bipartisan task force unanimously adopted a set of short- and long-term recommendations. If implemented, these recommendations will strengthen Washington’s trade-dependent economy and ensure we remain a top competitor that creates middle class jobs.

Below is the executive summary of the task force’s recommendations. You can read the full task force report here.

We are at a critical crossroads in this increasingly competitive global economy. Washington must continue looking 10, 20, and 50 years down the road to stay in the game and ensure our state remains an attractive place to live and work. Having successful maritime and manufacturing industries is crucial for our future.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this issue. You can send me an email here or call my office at 206-216-3185.



Executive Summary

The Joint Legislative Task Force on the Economic Resilience of Maritime and Manufacturing in Washington (Task Force) was established by E2SHB 2580 (C 127 L 14). The purpose of the Task Force is to develop recommendations that achieve several objectives enumerated in the enabling legislation related to sustaining the maritime and manufacturing industry sectors that support Washington’s trade- based economy, which generate $30 billion annually for Washington State[1].

The recommendations of the Task Force must include short and long-term action plans for the Legislature to support and sustain the maritime industry and other manufacturing sectors in the state. The Task Force may also provide specific legislative approaches and non-legislative approaches. To assist in developing the action plans, the Task Force co-chairs appointed an Advisory Committee consisting of maritime and manufacturing business, labor, career and technical education, environmental and other stakeholders from these diverse sectors.

The Task Force met three times during the 2014 interim and twice during the 2015 interim. The two meetings in 2015 were held at the Port of Bremerton and the Port of Seattle’s Fishermen’s Terminal in the Ballard-Interbay Manufacturing Industrial Center. All of the meetings were conducted in a public meeting forum with public testimony. The off-site meetings at the ports of Bremerton and Seattle also included tours of shipyards, ship-building companies, a seafood processor, manufacturing industrial parks, and the North Pacific Fishing Fleet’s homeport.

As required by its enabling legislation, the Task Force has developed both short-term and long-term action plans, which include both legislative and non-legislative approaches. In developing these plans, the Task Force considered recommendations from both the Advisory Committee and from public testimony, as well as several seminal pieces of legislation that were passed during the 2014-2015 and 2016 legislative sessions.


  • Short-Term Action Plan (JUNE 2016 – DECEMBER 2017)

In order to build on the progress made during the 2015 and 2016 legislative sessions, as articulated above, the following actions shall be pursued in the short-term:

Legislative Actions


  • Develop a legislative “state economic resilience” rating and map to provide to city and county councils with port districts and/or manufacturing industrial centers in their jurisdictions. This rating system will describe for these local officials the state-wide economic impacts of port districts, maritime and manufacturing industries, and industrial lands located within their jurisdictions. The map will illustrate current locations of industrial lands within city and county boundaries and the ownership of those lands (city/county/state/federal or private).


  • Working with the appropriate House and Senate K-12 and Higher Education committees, develop in coordination with the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, State Board of Community and Technical Colleges, State Workforce Development Board, the Washington Student Achievement Council, the Department of Labor and Industries, the U.S. Navy, and the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard a summary of all the K-12 and higher education maritime- and manufacturing-related educational and trades programs currently funded and identify labor union and non-union training, apprenticeship, and work-based learning programs, which schools districts or higher education institutions offer them, and whether there are partnerships with private industry, private non-profit groups, and public sector (local/state/federal) organizations.
  • Develop a matrix of legislation passed since 2014 related to Maritime and Manufacturing Economic Resilience investments, and a matrix of legislation introduced since 2014 related to Maritime and Manufacturing Economic Resilience investments, and identify legislative priorities for the 2017-2019 biennium including support for commercial and sport fishing, shipbuilding and ship repair, stevedoring, manufacturing, and preservation of industrial lands.
  • Identify potential risks to commercial fishing and aquaculture sectors such as reduced fish populations or polluted shellfish beds that may result from natural or man-made disasters that have affected other fishing and shellfish markets nationally, including overfishing or damage to marine ecosystems from ocean acidification, pollutants, hypoxia, eutrophication, and oil spills.


Non-Legislative Actions


  • Work with the Departments of Commerce and Ecology and other executive agencies, as appropriate, to identify all the facilities state-wide that: are defined as “Essential Public Facilities” in the Growth Management Act[2]; require shoreline access and industrially-zoned lands to perform their core economic development mission; and are located in currently designated manufacturing industrial centers.
  • Convene a public forum with elected and appointed representatives from state and local agencies with policy and legislative authority affecting facilities designated as “Essential Public Facilities” in the Growth Management Act, and develop a work plan for a shared Economic Resilience Strategy 2021.
  • Enhance the career and technical education (CTE) pipeline to connect Washington students to Washington-based employment opportunities in manufacturing and the maritime sector.

Appropriate agencies of state government and the relevant committees of the Legislature should cooperate in the short term to formulate polices directly aimed at this effort.

  • Commit to performance improvements in the timeliness of issuance of business permits consistent with the goals and data being collected by the Governor’s Office for Regulatory Innovation and Assistance pursuant to Chapter 68, Laws of 2014 (E2SHB 2192 Promoting economic development through enhancing transparency and predictability of state agency permitting and review processes). Engage in further dialogue about regulatory reform, streamlined permitting, and other related practices that address the challenges and risks faced by maritime facilities and manufacturers that choose to locate or expand their footprint in Washington to inform additional public policy action.
  • Review the recommendations made by the Joint Transportation Committee study contained in the 2015-17 Transportation Budget to identify prominent road-rail conflicts, recommend a corridor-based prioritization process for addressing the impacts of projected increases in rail traffic, and identify areas of state public policy interest, such as the critical role of freight movement to the Washington economy and the state’s competitiveness in world trade.
    • Long-Term Action Plan (JANUARY 2018 – JUNE 2021)
      • Establish in legislation the Economic Resilience Strategy to develop policies and regulations in cooperation with state and local jurisdictions in order to protect those essential public facilities deemed to have strategic significance to Washington’s economic resilience.
      • Create the “WA Economic Resilience of Maritime and Manufacturing Matrix” to track legislative actions and executive policies at the federal (such as the Harbor Maintenance Tax) and state levels that affect the global competitiveness of the State’s maritime and manufacturing industrial base. The matrix should identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to the sustainability and growth of maritime and manufacturing jobs and industries through 2025, including such factors as: career and technical educational opportunities in middle and high schools, community and technical colleges, public four-year institutions of higher education, and apprentice programs; population growth in urban areas and associated impacts on industrial lands designated for heavy and light manufacturing; pollution and habitat losses affecting commercial fisheries and aquaculture; federal, state, and/or local policies that change the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council; changing trade laws affecting access to Arctic waters; and other factors as appropriate. Incorporate this matrix into the Washington Economic Resilience Strategy.
      • Identify natural and man-made disasters that could seriously disrupt the natural resource base and critical land-based and sea-based infrastructure of our maritime, fishing, seafood, and manufacturing industries and the critical infrastructure necessary to sustain them, and assess the state-wide economic impacts in the event of a catastrophic loss to these sectors.

Incorporate these analyses into an annual review of the Washington Economic Resilience Strategy.

  • Develop strategies with the maritime and manufacturing industries and local and state agencies to assess economic recovery potentials following such catastrophic losses, and identify workforce retraining and educational investments that may help workers and communities transition to new economic opportunities.

End notes:

[1]Washington State Maritime Cluster Economic Impact Study,” November 2013, prepared for the Economic Development Council of Seattle and King County and the Workforce Development Council of Seattle and King County, with support from the Puget Sound Regional Council, prepared by Community Attributes Inc.

[2] The comprehensive plan of each county and city that is planning under RCW 36.70A.040 (the Growth Management Act or GMA) must include a process for identifying and siting essential public facilities. “Essential public facilities” include those facilities that are typically difficult to site, such as airports, state education facilities and state or regional transportation facilities as defined in RCW 47.06.140. WSDOT, in cooperation with regional, local and private transportation agencies, is required to plan for improvements to these facilities in the statewide multimodal plan. State law declares improvements to facilities and services of statewide significance identified in the statewide multimodal plan to be essential state public facilities under the GMA. Please see the final report of the Governor’s Container Ports Initiative (January 2009) for more information on ports and “essential public facilities.”