Great Lakes group names Rep. Gallagher as Legislator of the Year

(GREEN BAY, Wis.) – The Great Lakes Maritime Task Force (GLMTF) on Friday recognized the commitment of Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., to protect and advance the Great Lakes maritime supply chain, naming him 2022 Legislator of the Year.

Gallagher has spearheaded legislation that invests in shipbuilding on the Great Lakes, improves the maritime supply chain during the winter, and ensures the Great Lakes Navigation System remains viable for years to come.

Gallagher introduced the Supplying Help to Infrastructure in Ports, Yards and America’s Repair Dock (SHIPYARD) Act of 2021 that would provide $25 billion to make investments needed to optimize, improve and rebuild shipyard facilities, electrical infrastructure, environmental systems, and the equipment of public and private shipyards in the United States that support the U.S. Navy fleet.

Rep. Mike Gallagher

“At a time when China is commissioning three ships in a single day, we desperately need to strengthen the American shipbuilding industrial base to expand, support and service the fleet,” Gallagher said in receiving the honor. “The bipartisan, bicameral SHIPYARD Act makes critical investments to better ensure shipyards across the country, such as Marinette Marine, can build the Navy the nation needs.”

He also introduced the Great Lakes Winter Commerce Act, a bill that would clearly define the U.S. Coast Guard’s responsibility for icebreaking on the Great Lakes. Currently, the Coast Guard conducts Great Lakes icebreaking based on an 85-year-old executive order that fails to clearly define the service’s mission. This bill would update that mission to help ensure it meets the modern demands of commerce in the Great Lakes region.

“In cold winter months, icebreaking helps keep our Great Lakes economy moving. But a lack of sufficient icebreaking in recent years has shown that Congress needs to modernize the Coast Guard’s icebreaking mission on the Great Lakes,” said Gallagher. “The Great Lakes Winter Commerce Act is a bipartisan, bicameral bill codifying an icebreaking performance standard to meet the reasonable demands of commerce. This will help ensure that small businesses in northeast Wisconsin can continue shipping goods from point A to point B — no matter the month or the weather.”

Gallagher was a staunch supporter of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) 2020. He ensured a 13 percent set-aside in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund for the Great Lakes Navigation System. Previous legislation included funding for small harbors like the Port of Green Bay but failed to sufficiently increase the funding to adequate levels. This bill increased the amount allotted to harbors on the Great Lakes Navigation System from 10 percent to 13 percent, with actual funding levels this year approaching 15 percent.

“Congressman Gallagher has helped to solidify thousands of good-paying jobs for the hard-working people of Wisconsin. U.S. shipyards are critical to our national defense and Mike Gallagher continues to make that a priority,” said Craig Perciavalle, vice president and general manager of Bay Shipbuilding.

“At a time when the American supply chain is struggling, Congressman Gallagher championed critical legislation to rebuild Great Lakes ports and waterways. The Port of Green Bay is grateful for the passage of WRDA 2020 and the effort Congressman Gallagher put in to ensure an equitable portion of funding for the Great Lakes Navigation System,” stated Dean Haen, director of the Brown County Port and Resource Recovery Department. “The Great Lakes Maritime Task Force’s Legislator of the Year Award is a fitting tribute to Rep. Gallagher and acknowledges all that he has done for our region and our industry.”

“Congressman Gallagher’s support for U.S. merchant mariners, Wisconsin ports and Wisconsin shipbuilding drives economic stability in the Great Lakes region and in the nation. Simply put, he helps to create family sustaining jobs for thousands,” stated Mark Ruge, president of the Wisconsin Domestic Maritime Coalition.

“Mike Gallagher invests in the American worker protecting sailors from damaging ice floes, advancing U.S. shipbuilding, and keeping the maritime supply chain moving on the nation’s Fourth Sea Coast,” said John Baker, International Longshoremen’s Association and Great Lakes Maritime Task Force vice president.

“The work done by Congressman Gallagher to correct years of neglect to the Great Lakes Navigation System during the winter months is monumental. The Great Lakes Winter Commerce Act is a great step in the right direction. In addition, the support Congressman Gallagher provided to get the Great Lakes designated as a navigation system with a guaranteed allocation of money from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund will undoubtedly serve the Great Lakes region for decades to come and that is why he is our Legislator of the Year,” stated Jim Weakley, president of the Great Lakes Maritime Task Force.

“The importance of the Great Lakes cannot be overstated. Here in northeast Wisconsin, these lakes are crucial to not just our economy, but to our way of life, and it’s critical we do everything we can to preserve these national treasures for generations to come,” said Gallagher. “It’s an honor to be named the 2022 Legislator of the Year by the Great Lakes Maritime Task Force, and I look forward to continuing my work to both protect the Great Lakes and expand opportunities for the businesses that rely on them.”

The presentation of the award was made at the U.S. Venture facility in Green Bay. President and CEO of U.S. Venture, John Schmidt, stated, “The Port of Green Bay serves as a critical link in the supply chain for gasoline, diesel, and renewable energy products supplied to northeastern Wisconsin. We appreciate and commend Congressman Gallagher for his continued support of the port and the Great Lakes.”

About Great Lakes Maritime Task Force

The Great Lakes Maritime Task Force, with 74 members, is the largest coalition to speak for the Great Lakes Navigation System. Advocating for domestic and international shipping, its members represent labor and management from U.S.-flag vessel operators, shipboard and longshore unions, port authorities, cargo shippers, terminal operators, shipyards, and other Great Lakes interests. The Great Lakes commercial maritime industry supports more than 147,000 American jobs in eight Great Lakes states and generates more than $25 billion in economic activity.

– Great Lakes Maritime Task Force

By Rich Miller