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Schaer, Prieto Measure Urging Congress to Clarify, Broaden Shipping Waivers under Jones’ Act in Emergent Circumstances Clears Assembly

Jersey’s Ability to Restock Rock Salt Supply

(TRENTON) – The full Assembly approved on Thursday legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Gary S. Schaer and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto urging Congress to waive shipping restrictions under the Jones Act that would enable New Jersey and other states to restock its rock salt supply when needed.

As a result of harsh winter conditions this year, the New Jersey Department of Transportation needed to use over 370,000 tons of rock salt, depleting its supply. Although, 40,000 tons of rock salt is available for shipment from Maine, the State has been unable to receive the shipment as a result of restrictions imposed on the maritime transport of cargo under the Jones Act. The State requested, but was denied, a waiver of the restrictions.

The sponsors said the denial created a situation where the health and safety of New Jersey residents and other United States citizens would be imperiled if a snowstorm were to reach New Jersey and there was insufficient rock salt available for the New Jersey Department of Transportation to provide for clear and safe roadways.

“This is not simply a problem for New Jersey and its residents,” Schaer (D-Bergen, Passaic). “New Jersey roadways are widely used by commuters and travelers from other states using the Turnpike, the Parkway and Route 95 as a way to get to New York or to Washington. Obtaining the waiver is essential to maintaining safe travel on our roadways during these unpredictable weather conditions.”

“With substantial snowfall occurring nearly weekly for two months, New Jersey exhausted its supply of winter maintenance materials quickly,” Prieto (D-Bergen, Hudson). “Seeking a waiver impeded our efforts to prepare for the possibility of more inclement conditions. Changes must be made in consideration of situations such as New Jersey’s. We implore Congress to act on this matter for the future.”

The Assembly Resolution (AR-88) urges Congress to amend federal law to either clarify that emergent matters imperiling the health and safety of United States citizens qualify for a waiver under the Jones Act or to broaden the scope of what conditions qualify for a waiver under the act.

The Merchant Marine Act of 1920 also known as the Jones Act, is a United States federal statute provides for the promotion and maintenance of the American merchant marine. Among other purposes, the law regulates maritime commerce in U.S. waters and between U.S. ports. Section 27 of the Jones Act, deals with cabotage (i.e., coastal shipping) and requires that all goods transported by water between U.S. ports be carried on U.S. Flag ships, constructed in the United States, owned by U.S. citizens, and crewed by U.S. citizens and U.S. permanent residents.

The measure passed in the Assembly 73-0.