Senate committee approves bill that will assess TWIC program

By Tyson Fisher, Land Line staff writer | Thursday, June 28, 2018

The future of the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) remains in limbo as the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation approved a bill that will require an assessment of the effectiveness of the program before moving forward with required biometric readers. For truckers, it is still business as usual.

“Truckers just need to know that nothing has changed with the TWIC program and that if they needed a TWIC before this bill which has not been signed into law yet they still need a TWIC today,” said Doug Morris, director of security operations for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.

Port employees, longshoremen, mariners, truckers and others who require unescorted access to secure areas of ports are required to carry a TWIC card.

On Wednesday, June 27, the Senate committee approved SB3094, a bipartisan bill sponsored by Sens. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, and Gary Peters, D-Mich. The bill restricts the Coast Guard from implementing any rule requiring the use of biometric transportation security cards until an assessment of the program is submitted to Congress.

Titled the “Transportation Worker Identification Credential Accountability Act of 2018,” the bill will delay a final rule published in the Federal Register by the Coast Guard in August 2016. In that final rule, the Coast Guard would require biometrics such as a fingerprint be included in confirming a TWIC card holder’s identity.

SB3094 also prohibits any proposal or issuance of a notice of proposed rulemaking for any revision to such rule unless it is to extend the effective date. In addition, it prohibits any other rule that would require the use of biometric readers for transportation security cards.

On June 22, the Coast Guard published a notice of proposed rulemaking that will delay the TWIC reader requirement by three years for certain facilities. Those include facilities:

  • That handle certain dangerous cargoes in bulk, but do not transfer these cargoes to or from a vessel.
  • That receive vessels carrying certain dangerous cargoes in bulk, but do not, during that vessel-to-facility interface, transfer these bulk cargoes to or from those vessels.

All other facilities, including those with vessels carrying more than 1,000 passengers and those that handle certain dangerous cargoes in bulk and transfer it to or from a vessel, will still be required to meet the Aug. 23 deadline this year.

If approved, facilities that fall under the June 22 proposed rulemaking will have until Aug. 23, 2021, while the Coast Guard assesses the program. In total, only 122 of the 525 facilities would qualify for the delay, while the remaining 403 facilities will implement the readers by Aug. 23 of this year.

Comments for the proposed rulemaking for the delay at certain facilities are being accepted through July 23. That proposed rulemaking can be found by clicking here.

On June 6, the House Homeland Security Committee approved the House version of the bill, HR5729. A coalition of 11 industry groups, including the American Chemistry Council, sent a letter to the committee leadership in support of the bill introduced by Rep. John Katko, R-N.Y.

“In August 2016, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) issued the TWIC reader rule,” the letter said. “Unfortunately, the final rule greatly expanded the scope of areas subject to the TWIC reader requirement beyond what was originally proposed. It is projected the final rule would roughly double the number of facilities subject to the TWIC reader requirements compared to the proposed rule, creating confusion among regulated facilities and increasing compliance costs without any proven corresponding security benefit.”

 

 

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