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    News in Depth

    Fed'l Legislative Verbiage That Could Put Truck Inspection Facility Somewhere On 710 Fwy Inserted In SAFE Port Act By Cong. Millender-McDonald


    (May 5, 2006, updated May 6) -- A provision that could facilitate federal funding for a truck inspection facility somewhere on the 710 freeway was inserted in the House version of the "SAFE" Port Act by Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald (D., Carson-LB)...with the Port of LB publicly neutral and the City of LB not publicly supportive (yet).

    The truck inspection facility -- which supporters have said would be a high tech project that could assess trucks while they're driving by -- is apparently favored by the CA Highway Patrol with staff of the Gateway Cities Council of Governments (Gateway COG) favoring at least one truck inspection facility somewhere on the 710 freeway...but without mentioning a specific location (yet).

    The Gateway Cities COG governing board consists of one Councilmember each from 21 SE regional cities (including LB), a member of the L.A. County Bd of Supervisors, the Mayor of LB and the Port of LB.

    Cong. Millender-McDonald brought the amendment authorizing future federal funds (not appropriating money yet) "for the purpose of enhancing supply-chain security at truck inspection stations in or near high volume seaports in coordination with States and local government." She was supported by the SAFE Port Act's GOP co-author, former LB resident/representative Congressman Dan Lungren (R., Sacramento).

    LBReport.com quotes extended portions of their May 4 House floor remarks below as reported in the Congressional Record.

    In August 2004, PoLB Exec. Dir Steinke told the LB City Council -- and PoLB's Director of Community Affairs/Gov't Relations Carl Kemp reiterated to us today -- that the truck inspection project is not being pressed or advanced by the Port of LB. "We're neutral on it. It's not ours," Mr. Kemp said.

    LB City Hall's Manager of Government Affairs, Tom Modica, told LBReport.com that the City of LB is concerned about the environmental impacts of such a facility...and is glad the legislation is NOT site specific (doesn't tie the facility to a LB location). "Of course we'd have to discuss any such project with Councilmembers and get community input before supporting this," Mr. Modica told LBReport.com.

    When the news of the proposal first leaked out during an August 2004 Council colloquy (details below), Councilmembers Rae Gabelich and Val Lerch, whose 8th and 9th neighborhoods adjoin the 710 freeway north of the 405 freeway, were not pleased by the prospect of a truck inspection facility (extended archival transcript excerpts below).

    As originally proposed, the 710 truck inspection facility wasn't called an anti-terrorist measure. It was basically a way (favored by the CHP) to spot unsafe trucks and get them off the highways.

    However, within the context of Congresswoman Millender-McDonald's amendment to the SAFE Port Act, the truck inspection facility is portrayed as an anti-terrorism, homeland security related item. As such, it cleared the full House as part of the SAFE Port Act on May 4. The full bill was controversial on other grounds, failing to require inspection of all incoming cargo containers, a provision sought by Democrats but opposed the "American Association of Port Authorities" (in which the Port of LB is a member) and by House GOP leadership. Democrats tried to send the bill back to Committee but failed on a 202-222 vote; the full bill then passed the House 421-2.

    To become federal law, the truck inspection facility verbiage would have to remain in a final version of the SAFE Port bill that comes out of a House-Senate conference committee; a Senate version of port security legislation is separately advancing (and does include 100% inspection of cargo containers but without a date certain).

    Cong. Millender-McDonald indicated in her floor remarks that she first sought multi-year federal funding for port security in legislation she authored roughly two years ago [HR 478]...and stated in a press release today (May 5) that the amendment's verbiage was pulled from HR 478, which she previously authored.

    In a release, Congresswoman Millender-McDonald's office said her "ongoing efforts to help establish and maintain a security infrastructure" were "aggressively addressed in her amendment by calling for truck inspection facilities to integrate new technologies that will make our supply lines more secure and efficient. Her overall vision is to make American truck inspection stations, seaports and trade corridors a consolidated and coordinated system of security by providing safety inspections, security and emissions control check points." It adds, "The grant program was modeled after legislation [Cong. Millender-McDonald] introduced in the past two Congresses. Language used in the current bill was pulled from the memberís original bill (H.R. 478). Congresswoman Millender-McDonald remains steadfast in her consistent efforts to ensure the movement of our goods is safe, secure and efficient."

    HR 478, introduced by Cong. Millender-McDonald in Feb. 2005, didn't mention truck inspection facilities...but it did speak to multi-year funding. It allowed the Secretary of Homeland Security to make grants "to seaports to enhance security" only after consulting with the Secretary of Transportation and finding that the project would improve security "or improve the efficiency of the seaport without lessening security."

    During the Port's budget workshop presentation to the City Council in August 2004, 6th district Councilwoman Laura Richardson remarked to PoLB Exec. Dir Richard Steinke, "I had an opportunity to read a report that I hadn't really heard anything about...potentially truck inspection facilities, and I was told that there was one potentially being discussed or considered with the Gateway COG [Council of Governments] and staff and others, potentially in Long Beach over by the Port"...and Councilwoman Richardson asked Mr. Steinke to show where it would be located.

    Mr. Steinke hadn't mentioned a potential truck inspection facility in his budget presentation...but didn't deny what Councilwoman Richardson said. "Councilwoman, I'm not familiar with the exact location in the harbor. I know there has been discussion with the city about locating it somewhere on the I-710," Mr. Steinke said, adding:

    One of the things that we would certainly want to do is make sure that it doesn't congest the Port any more than it currently is. If you're stopping trucks on the outbound side through an inspection station, we don't want to cause more congestion. One of the ideas I think that CalTrans and Highway Patrol were talking about is moving it up on the I-710 into a location that would allow for adequate pulloff and inspection of trucks and those kinds of things. I'm not familiar with a location right in the harbor that they've been talking about...

    Councilwoman Richardson turned to City Manager Jerry Miller, "[W]hat concerned me in the report was it seemed like an extensive amount of conversations had taken place with city staff, Councilmembers, elected officials, the Mayor and the COG and yet I don't recall any discussion on the Council about it..."

    City Manager Miller replied, "We'll have to get back to you on that one. We did send you a memo on May 11, 2004 and we'll freshen it up and make sure you get it by tomorrow or the next day..."

    8th district Councilwoman Rae Gabelich followed up, "To talk just for a second about the inspection station that happens to be proposed to be in my district, right behind homes and schools, and I can tell you that that isn't going to be well-received by the community, so I hope that we have your support in finding a better location than the back end of a residential community."

    Mr. Steinke held his reply. 9th district Councilman Val Lerch then took the floor:

    Madam Mayor, I'm going to make a statement too: Ditto. I want to stay with the fact that we are in a process of expanding the Port...I want to know when we're going to stop this Port expansion to the detriment of the community. I have some serious questions. One of the things you said, and not to chastise you sir, but you said we're going to put a truck inspection station out on the 710 because we don't want to congest the Port, so you'll put it in my backyard, and my neighbor's backyard...I think we need to change that thinking process. I think we need to look at our citizens, and the health of our citizens, over this robust expansion that we're going after, that nobody in the community in this city really wants. Your job is to create the best Port in the world and I understand that, but it's at the detriment of the citizens of this community, and we've got to start asking those questions.

    Mr. Steinke replied:

    I think over the past several years, the Port has tried to be a responsible environmental steward and to grow responsibly. The Intermodal Container Transfer Facility that was built in the mid 1980s was a forward thinking project to try to bring more cargo on rail. The Alameda Corridor was another project to try to encourage more traffic to go off the freeways and to get on on-dock rail. We're continuing to do those types of things.

    The inspection station that you both referred to. That's not a Port-driven or directed project. That's either CalTrans or its the Highway Patrol. We're not encouraging that to be something that's initiated by the Harbor Dept. as far as an inspection station. That is not something that we would control. It's not something that's in our jurisdiction.

    I think we are going to reach a point where there is going to be the ability to not be able to grow either physically or be able to handle more cargo. I think you're going to get to a saturation point where cargo will divert to other ports. I don't think we will continue to grow physically.

    LBReport.com pursued the story at the time...and Port of LB officials said then (as they say now) that other agencies (including CHP) were the source of the truck inspection facility proposal. A report on 710 freeway improvements at the time indicated that CHP favored a truck inspection facility...but couldn't proceed with it at the time for lack of funding.

    Gateway Cities Council of Governments (Gateway COG) staff subsequently indicated to LBReport.com that the facility "wouldn't be your father's truck inspection site." Instead it would be a high tech operation that could inspect trucks while they were in motion and driving past, they said.

    Below is a transcript of the relevant May 4 House floor colloquy as recorded in the Congressional Record

       AMENDMENT NO. 11 OFFERED BY MS. MILLENDER-MCDONALD

       Ms. MILLENDER-McDONALD. Mr. Chairman, I offer an amendment.

       The Acting CHAIRMAN. The Clerk will designate the amendment.

       The text of the amendment is as follows:

       Amendment No. 11 printed in House Report 109-450 offered by Ms. Millender-McDonald:

        Page 26, line 3, strike ``and''.

        Page 26, line 9, strike the period and insert ``; and''.

        Page 26, after line 9, insert the following new paragraph:

        ``(13) to establish or enhance truck inspection stations for seaports and communities with a high percentage of container traffic in coordination with ports, States, and local governments to enable seaport and highway security around seaports.''.

        Page 29, line 6, add at the end the following new sentence: ``Of the amount appropriated pursuant to the authorization of appropriations under this paragraph for a fiscal year, up to $20,000,000 is authorized to be made available to provide grants for activities described in subsection (d)(13).''.

       The Acting CHAIRMAN. Pursuant to House Resolution 789, the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Millender-McDonald) and a Member opposed each will control 5 minutes.

       The Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from California.

       MODIFICATION TO AMENDMENT NO. 11 OFFERED BY MS. MILLENDER-MCDONALD

       Ms. MILLENDER-McDONALD. Mr. Chairman, I ask unanimous consent to modify my amendment.

       The Acting CHAIRMAN. The Clerk will report the modification.

       Modification Offered by Ms. Millender-McDonald

       Strike line 1 and all that follows and insert in lieu thereof the following:

       (13) for the purpose of enhancing supply-chain security at truck inspection stations in or near high volume seaports in coordination with States and local government.

       The Acting CHAIRMAN. Without objection, the amendment is modified.

       There was no objection.

       Ms. MILLENDER-McDONALD. Mr. Chairman, at this time let me thank Chairman LUNGREN, the subcommittee Chair, as well as the full committee Chair, Chairman KING, for accepting this amendment and its modification, along with the ranking member, Congressman BENNIE THOMPSON, for his guidance and advice during the process of all of this.

       I am happy that this bill has language that was in a port security bill that I had for the past 2 years that speaks to the multi-level funding for larger port security projects.

       Mr. Chairman, I offer this amendment because I do represent the region that has the largest port complex in the country and the third largest in the world, and it is important that we enhance truck inspection facilities located on trade corridors that lead to port complexes that support a heavy volume of cargo containers.

       In 2005, 11.4 million containers entered our country and traveled along our interstate highway system. On average, that is an increase of 500,000 containers annually entering our country. In the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, 80 percent of goods that come into this country from the Pacific rim come through these ports, and 45 percent of containerized goods come through these ports. So, Mr. Chairman, it is important that we recognize the vital components in our efforts to secure these ports, our trade corridors and our communities. It is another layer of security. It is about securing the entire supply chain.

       In our ongoing efforts as a Nation to establish and maintain a security infrastructure, this amendment does make sense. Truck inspection facilities have the potential to integrate new technology that will make our supply lines safer as well as more secure and efficient. In short, truck inspection facilities have the potential to be high-tech weight stations. More importantly, this is another tool in the toolbox in ensuring that our ports and supply chains are secure.

       Many of you have come out to the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and seen the Alameda Corridor. When trucks go down that Alameda Corridor, we have to make sure they are secure and that the goods that are being moved from that point to the point of distribution are safe and secure. This is why this amendment is extremely important.

       I will say that while I cannot go on as a cosponsor at this time, given that I would have wanted to, this particular bill is extraordinarily important for us and I support the bill.

       Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.

       Mr. DANIEL E. LUNGREN of California. Mr. Chairman, I ask unanimous consent to obtain the time in opposition even though I do not oppose this amendment.

       The Acting CHAIRMAN (Mr. Putnam). Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from California?

       There was no objection.

       Mr. DANIEL E. LUNGREN of California. Mr. Chairman, I would like to congratulate the gentlewoman from Southern California for working with us to modify the language of her original amendment so it achieves the purpose to which she intends and is not objectionable in any way.

       There is no doubt that we want to make sure that we have layers of security, starting at the foreign ports, through the period of time in which the containers are shipped, to just outside our ports, in our ports, and then as the containers leave our ports.

       One of the things we have to do in this entire effort is to insert a notion of uncertainty in the minds of would-be terrorists. One the ways we do that is having layers of security all across the globe.

       The gentlelady has suggested that we be explicit in our language with respect to the possibility of utilizing another tool in our toolbox, as she suggests, where we might be able to devise certain programs that utilize facilities that may exist just outside the port for purposes of looking at trucks for safety purposes, and we might be able to incorporate the terrorist security review at that point as well. If in conjunction with the authorities, local and state authorities, this kind of a grant request is made, we want to make sure that the Department of Homeland Security can, in fact, take a look at it. If it seems to serve the purpose to which we are all dedicated, then it would be allowed under this bill.

       So I congratulate the gentlelady for introducing the bill. I also congratulate her for representing my hometown, the place I was born and lived in for 42 years.

       Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.

       Ms. MILLENDER-McDONALD. Mr. Chairman, it is great to have my friend who once served so admirably in the southern California area now being a part and parcel of this bill that is just so vital. He knows, as I know, that our California Highway Patrol commissioner is also amenable to this bill as well.

       Mr. Chairman, truck inspection stations will be a consolidation and coordination of seaports, community and trade corridors, and both local and state representatives are all in favor of this. I am very pleased about this important amendment. I thank all of those, the chairmen and the ranking members, for accepting this.

       Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.

       The Acting CHAIRMAN. The question is on the amendment offered by the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Millender-McDonald), as modified.

       The amendment, as modified, was agreed to.

    Developing.


    Related coverage

  • House Repubs Defeat Dem Effort To Require Inspection Of All Incoming Cargo Containers, Fails 202-222; "SAFE" Port Bill Without 100% Inspections Passes 421-2. Senate Legislation Requiring 100% Inspection Advances
  • Reuters coverage of the bills is at: Reuters: House Votes To Boost Port Security.

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