California lawmakers gave their initial approval on Tuesday to a bill that would raise $130 million annually to improve port security by imposing a $10 fee on each cargo container shipped into the state.
“California simply cannot wait for the federal government to step up to the plate and make an honest commitment to improving port security,” said Assemblymember Betty Karnette (D-Long Beach), the bill's sponsor.
The measure, which passed the chamber's transportation committee on a 7-5 vote, now heads to the Assembly's appropriations committee.
The bill would authorize the state's Office of Homeland Security to assess and collect fees on cargo container traffic and distribute the funds to California's ports.
The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, if combined, would be the world's fifth busiest complex after Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai and Shenzhen, said Art Wong, a spokesman for the Port of Long Beach.
The two ports handle about two-thirds of all ocean cargo shipped to the west coast of the United States every year. The two ports last year handled the equivalent of 13.1 million cargo containers, Wong said.