From the Maritime Practice.
Ever since the Supreme Court held that the Harbor Maintenance Tax on exports to be unconstitutional in United States v. United States Shoe Corporation, ___ U.S. ___, 118 S.Ct. 1290, 140 L.Ed2d 453 (1998), Congress has grappled with finding an alternative means to fund maintenance dredging of the nation’s harbors. In the last Congress, a bill was introduced to provide for a Harbor Services Fee, to be assessed based on vessel tonnage, for this purpose. However, after considerable opposition to the bill from every source, the bill was defeated. In lieu of the funding of needed dredging out of a new tax, the American Association of Port Authorities has proposed that dredging be paid for out of the $20+ million dollars in U.S. Customs duties collected annually on imported goods, almost all of which currently goes into the general treasury. Oversight hearings on this proposal are expected in the new year.