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Senate panel takes testimony on Schmidt legislation to improve statewide port infrastructure

LANSING, Mich. — Last year, Sen. Wayne Schmidt joined a host of bipartisan lawmakers in introducing legislation that would provide critical support to the state’s shipping industry and take additional steps to protect Michigan’s environment.

“Michigan is the only Great Lakes State without a formal, statewide authority overseeing the state’s ports and shipping industry,” said Schmidt, R-Traverse City. “Creating a uniform authority and making more resources available to grow the industry is a critical step in the right direction for Michigan’s economic future.”

The state of Michigan has 38 ports, each of which is given authority on how to operate under Michigan law. Senate Bills 743-746 and House Bill 5291 make up a bipartisan package to establish the Great Lakes Maritime Office within the Michigan Department of Transportation. This would establish a statewide port authority responsible for assisting the state’s numerous ports with grant funding, leveraging federal funds to be used in Michigan, conducting research and planning for the industry and assisting with port infrastructure improvements and repairs.

The legislation also focuses on ensuring the environment remains a top priority. The bills would also create a transparency plan that focuses on sustainable efforts to protect Michigan’s environment and natural resources.

“While we need to keep our attention on Michigan’s economic future, we also cannot take our state’s unique natural resources for granted,” Schmidt said. “With the use of modern technology, safer and more efficient methods of shipping our state’s numerous raw materials and goods are becoming available and we ought to be considering those as well — and these bills do exactly that.”

Schmidt thanked Senate Economic and Small Business Development Chair Sen. Ken Horn for taking testimony on the legislation and thanked Gabe Schneider, who spoke on behalf of Northwestern Michigan College’s Great Lakes Maritime Academy, for his testimony in support of the measure.

“I’m glad Gabe was able to join the meeting and thoroughly outline both the need for these bills and the benefit they bring to the table as we seek to create more jobs, support our shipping industry and seek more efficient and environmentally friendly ways to ship goods,” Schmidt said.

The bills remain before the Senate Economic and Small Business Development Committee for additional testimony and consideration.

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Editor’s note: The above photograph is available by clicking the image or visiting the senator’s website and clicking “Photos” under the “In the News” tab.

Photo caption: Gabe Schneider, who spoke on behalf of Northwestern Michigan College’s Great Lakes Maritime Academy, which is in Schmidt’s district, testifies in support of Senate Bills 743-746 and House Bill 5291.