H.R. 5102 "ON TIME Act" to relieve congestion in our trade corridors

Yesterday morning I attended the Southwest California Legislative council meeting of the Temecula, Murrieta and Lake Elsinore Valley Chambers of Commerce to present a report on Prop 98.

Prior to my presentation we heard a report from Jolyn Murphy, District Director, Congressman Ken Calvert on H.R. 5102 the ON TIME Act which proposes imposing a fee of three-quarters of 1 percent of the value of each import or export shipment and capped at $500 per shipment. A shipment could be one or more cargo containers. It is estimated that the fee could raise $3 billion to $5 billion a year annually during the 10 year life span of the bill. This includes up to $500 million a year for projects in southern California. The Act establishes an 80% federal, 20% non-federal funding matching requirement for projects within each state.”

Jolyn told us that $300 billion dollars worth of goods come into Long Beach Port every year which taxes our system of roads as this cargo heads to the Inland Empire on its way to the east coast. Participants include all those communities within the 300 mile radius from the port of entry. The name assigned to the impacted roads is the National Trade Gateway Corridors.

There were several questions raised such as the administration fee which we are told is capped at two percent. Others questioned whether or not the fees would find their way back to California and the areas which are directly impacted. With our current economic struggle will this new fee impact our local economy? I asked Ms. Murphy if her office had been in contact with Assemblyman Chuck DeVore who was trying to introduce a plan to reduce the infrastructure and traffic burden in our area from these port cargo containers. She told me that due to interstate commerce laws any state legislative effort would be deemed unconstitutional.

While we have listened to the presidential candidates discussion of our “Free Trade” and Fair Trade Agreements to me this Act will be viewed as a new tariff on imported goods. Wikipedia states the following: “A tariff is a tax on goods upon importation. When a ship arrives in port a customs officer inspects the contents and charges a tax according to the tariff formula. Since the goods cannot be landed until the tax is paid, it is the easiest tax to collect, and the cost of collection is small.”

Juice readers. What’s your take on this pending Legislation?

About Larry Gilbert