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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: February 6, 2019 02:22 PM
From: Representative Joseph C. Hohenstein and Rep. Fred Keller, Rep. Jared G. Solomon
To: All House members
Subject: Port Freight Reimbursement program
The ports and airports in Pennsylvania are the gateways of our Commonwealth to both national and international markets. Whether importing vital raw materials for Pennsylvania businesses, or exporting our products and our people around the globe, the success of these ports are integrally linked to the success of our companies. It is because of this that over recent years the Commonwealth has invested heavily in, among other things, the Port of Philadelphia, the Port of Erie and elsewhere.

But while one hand of the Commonwealth giveth, another taketh away.

Specifically, due to tolls on the Pennsylvania Turnpike – and the lack of tolls on highways like I-80 and I-83 – our port facilities are losing market share to New York/New Jersey and Baltimore. As a result, Pennsylvania and its taxpayers are essentially subsidizing the Ports of Baltimore and New York/New Jersey.
For example, an analysis by PhilaPort found that shippers using the Port of New York/New Jersey realized a cost savings of $167,401 compared to Philadelphia; for the Port of Baltimore the savings are $500,000 annually. That 10,000 TEUs lost to other ports means a loss of nearly $5 million in revenue to the port, 80 jobs and nearly $1 million in tax revenue. The costs also fall heavily on Pennsylvania companies in all 67 counties. Whether importing raw material like wood pulp or coffee, or exporting to important world markets, companies need to use PhilaPort, but are having to pay hundreds of dollars in tolls each run to and from the port.

These losses in activity or increases in costs all translate to a negative impact on the bottom lines of our Commonwealth’s businesses, the people who work there, and the communities they support.

Our bill aims to address this issue by reimbursing Pennsylvania based companies for their tolls when transporting goods to and from Pennsylvania port facilities along the Turnpike. The Turnpike is unable to forgive or waive tolls directly, since they are so leveraged, but this bill achieves the same end indirectly.

Introduced as HB905