Court weighs in on TWIC readers, issues stay

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia issued a court order on July 24 delaying the implementation of the TWIC reader rule “until further order of the court.” Amy Midgett, spokeswoman for the U.S. Coast Guard, said the judicial stay was “in response to a lawsuit brought by industry groups.”

“If a settlement cannot be reached, additional briefings will likely occur around September or October, and the judicial stay will remain in place until the court decides the case after those briefings,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was required by the newly implemented TWIC Accountability Act to complete a comprehensive assessment of the program.

“According to the Homeland Security Operational Analysis Center, the DHS office conducting the assessment, the deadline for the study to be completed is April 2019,” Midgett said.

Once complete, DHS and the Coast Guard will review the results of the assessment. Upon congressional approval of the review, “DHS and the Coast Guard will move forward with the TWIC reader implementation process, or consider any changes resulting from the assessment,” Midgett said.

Importantly, neither the judicial stay nor the TWIC Accountability Act renounce the 2016 TWIC reader rule. Midgett said that the Coast Guard is prepared to enforce the rule once it is implemented, “subject to any changes in implementation based on the report or additional study.”

She said that the Office of Port and Facility Compliance “will provide additional information regarding the impacts of this law, the current lawsuit and the notice of proposed rulemaking” in a timely fashion.

By Professional Mariner Staff