I know this seems like an annual struggle. That’s because it is, unfortunately, and it will be until the full finding Congress originally intended is restored to the Maritime Heritage Grant Program that was steamrolled by the Maritime Administration to MARAD’s own financial advantage.
Tim Runyan of the Maritime Alliance again is leading the charge on Capitol Hill, and he could use help. Please consider contacting your senators and your representatives in Congress to support the STORIS Act, which restores funding and requires more transparency in MARAD’s handling of the money. ALC will write and lobby, but input from local groups is important. The pressure already has forced MARAD to increase the share of the ship-scrapping funds that go to the maritime preservation and education programs that originally were supposed to get them.
Tim has drafted a prototype letter. It’s full of background and information, and you can use that in developing your own, and joining the fight. His is directed toward Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, who sits on the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and is the ranking member of the subcommittee considering the bill, Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security. You can adapt it to your own elected representatives or their staffs. Your letter emailed to Sen. Booker’s staff also would be helpful — email them to Jason_Lemieux@booker.senate.gov; firstname.lastname@example.org; or email@example.com and cc to Tim: Runyant@ecu.edu
Here’s the letter:
Dear Senator Booker,
On behalf of the board, staff, volunteers, and community that supports (name of museum), I write to you to seek your support for the “Ships to be Recycled in the States” (STORIS) Act, (S. 1511; H.R. 2876). I ask that you assure the inclusion of the STORIS Act in the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act. Section 4 (c) (C) of the Act restores a competitive public grants program in support of America’s maritime heritage. Our non-profit organization could benefit from this competitive grant program. Rep. Donald Norcross (NJ) has requested that the STORIS Act be included in the 2017 NDAA.
The (your organization) is devoted to preserving and interpreting to the public America’s maritime heritage. The maritime heritage community is composed of more than 1,000 non-profit organizations in more than 40 states. This includes historic naval ships, maritime museums, tall ships for sail training, historic lighthouses, maritime historical societies, education, and preservation organizations. Thousands of veterans serve as staff or volunteers.
The STORIS Act is a proposed amendment to Public Law 103-451, the National Maritime Heritage Act of 1994. This act calls for a pool of unappropriated funds equal to 25% of the proceeds from the scrapping of ships in the National Defense Reserve Fleet (“mothball fleet”), to be distributed by the National Park Service to maritime non-profit institutions, and state and local governments through a competitive matching grants program. There is no impact on the budget.
The National Maritime Heritage Act reflected an historic and deep recognition by Congress of the importance of our country’s maritime history. On a practical level, the National Maritime Heritage Act also sought to provide assistance to those non-government organizations dedicated to preserving surviving reminders of that past, the ships, the artifacts and the stories that are so vital in telling our unique maritime story to new generations of Americans and so economically important to the cultural tourism sector on which so many communities depend.
An amendment was added to the 2010 National Defense Authorization Act that allowed the Maritime Administration to use all of the funds solely for the preservation of property it owns. This resulted in reduced funding to maritime heritage institutions in more than 40 states by 50%. The STORIS Act (S. 1511 and H.R. 2876), restores the original formula of 50% for MARAD, 25% to maritime academies, and a full 25% to the National Park Service-administered grants program for maritime preservation and educational projects. The STORIS Act also seeks more transparency in the ship-scrapping process.
I respectfully request that you include the STORIS Act in the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act.
Name Executive Director