Legislators reached a compromise Tuesday night to ensure that operations at Mobile’s port would continue as normal.
A bill sponsored by State Sen. Trip Pittman (R-Montrose) to reauthorize the licensing board for bar pilots, while simultaneously adding a fourth member to the panel passed both houses and is now on Gov. Kay Ivey’s desk, Pittman wrote.
SB222 passed with an amendment from the House that made the fourth member of the state Pilotage Commission a non-voting member and gave the Alabama State Port Authority the power to make recommendations to the governor on whom that member should be.
The move saves the port from a possible shutdown and avoids a possible attempt by officials to circumvent the state agency by federalizing the shipping channel.
“We appreciate the last-minute efforts of our legislators who affected the compromise language as well as our shipper and business stakeholders who weighed in on this critical issue,” Port Authority spokeswoman Judy Adams wrote in a statement to Lagniappe.
Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce announced the move through an email message to members Wednesday morning, after sending out an urgent message earlier in the week warning of the potential impacts of SB222 failing to pass in Montgomery.
“Thanks to your phone calls, texts and emails (the bill) was passed late last night and now sits on Governor Ivey’s desk for signature,” Chamber CEO Bill Sisson wrote.
Nearing the end of the session, SB222 had been held up in the senate — putting the business of the nation’s 10th largest port in jeopardy — despite two bills passing the lower chamber of the legislature and initial plans for an up or down vote back in February.