Sen. Tammy Baldwin named 2017 Great Lakes Legislator of the Year

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin

Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D) has been named 2017 Great Lakes Legislator of the Year by the largest labor/management coalition representing shipping on America’s Fourth Sea Coast. The award is presented annually by Great Lakes Maritime Task Force (GLMTF) to a legislator who has helped advance waterborne commerce on the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway. It was presented August 22 at a ceremony at Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin.

“Senator Baldwin’s first term in the Senate has been remarkable for her understanding of and commitment to shipping on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway,” said Brian D. Krus, President of GLMTF in 2017. “Her grasp of the issues, and more importantly, her response to the challenges facing shipping on the Fourth Sea Coast has been instrumental in moving several projects forward.”

Krus, who is also Senior National Assistant Vice President of American Maritime Officers, praised Senator Baldwin’s efforts to build another heavy icebreaker for the Great Lakes. “In 2016 she added $2 million to begin the design of the icebreaker to the Department of Homeland Security’s appropriations bill. This year she has added $5 million to the Coast Guard Authorization Act to further design of the new icebreaker.”

“Having adequate U.S. Coast Guard icebreaking resources on the Great Lakes is key to the system meeting the needs of commerce,” said James H.I. Weakley, 1st Vice President of GLMTF. “The ice season begins in early December and can extend well into April.”

Weakley, who is also President of Lake Carriers’ Association, noted the winters of 2013/2014 and 2014/2015 were so severe that the cargoes delayed, or outright canceled, because the U.S. Coast Guard did not have enough icebreaking assets cost the nation nearly 6,000 jobs and $1.1 billion in economic activity.

Sen. Baldwin also has a keen interest in international trade to and from the Lakes via the St. Lawrence Seaway.

“Superior, Green Bay and Milwaukee are among the leading international ports on the Great Lakes,” said John D. Baker, 2nd Vice President of GLMTF and President Emeritus of the ILA’s Great Lakes District Council. “The cargoes longshoremen load and unload in those ports support hundreds of jobs in Wisconsin. The Lakes/Seaway system has the capacity to handle more cargo, so there are more jobs to be had if our national policies promote waterborne commerce. Tammy Baldwin understands that and is always looking to advance shipping on our Fourth Sea Coast.”

Shipbuilding is another focus of Sen. Baldwin.

“Wisconsin is home to two of the largest shipyards on the Great Lakes,” said Richard Hammer, 3rd Vice President. “In a typical winter, more than 1,000 skilled men and women will maintain and modernize the Lakes fleet, an effort that results in more than $50 million being pumped into the state’s economy.”

Hammer, who is also Assistant General Manager of Donjon Shipbuilding and Repair, stressed Baldwin’s commitment to strong shipyards was recently underscored by her introduction of S. 1100, the Small Shipyards and Maritime Communities Act, which provides assistance for projects that would be effective in fostering efficiency, competitive operations and quality ship construction, repair and reconfiguration, as well as projects that promote employee skills and enhance productivity.

With her selection as Great Lakes Legislator of the Year, Senator Baldwin becomes the fourth Wisconsin legislator to receive the award since its inception in 1998. Previous recipients are Senator Ron Johnson (R), Rep. David R. Obey (D) and Rep. Mark Green (R).

Maritime Editorial