At a noon reception on Monday, Jan. 12, at the Downtown Club at One Shell Plaza in Houston, the Texas Ports Association (TPA) honored U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, Ranking Member on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, as TPA "Person of the Year."
The TPA annually honors individuals for their work and support for
Texas ports. Its aim is to advance the development of Texas ports,
enabling them to compete with ports outside Texas and thereby
strengthen the economy of Texas. Texas seaports handle an estimated 20 percent of the deep sea vessels calling at U.S. ports.
Sen. Hutchison was elected to the United States Senate in 1993 by way of special election, making her the first -- and, to date, the only -- woman elected to represent the state of Texas in the Senate.
"Our ports serve as the economic engine for our region," said Sen.
Hutchison. "When Jim Edmonds, chairman of the Port Commission, called my office to tell me that the ports were sharing customs officers with the airport, I sponsored legislation to increase personnel to better protect our ports. I will continue to support legislation that bolsters our prosperity and ensures that Texas' ports remain secure, competitive and operationally sound. I appreciate the Port Commission and the role its members play."
"Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison has long been at the forefront when it comes to national security, the economic welfare of our nation and the role our ports play in ensuring the success of those two dynamics," said Port of Houston Authority Chairman Jim Edmonds.
Speaking from the perspective of the inland waterway industry, Matt Woodruff of the Kirby Corporation said, "There has been no louder voice speaking for our interests in Washington than that of Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. While others talk of support, she has consistently delivered it. When our waterways have been threatened, she has risen to the challenge, finding the resources to ensure that the needs of Texas waterways have been met. We can think of nobody who is more deserving of recognition as the Texas Port Person of the Year."
Through her position on the Senate Appropriations Committee and as the Ranking Member on the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, Sen. Hutchinson has been a tireless advocate on behalf of ports and the maritime industry. This advocacy has manifested itself in terms of ensuring the continued safe and efficient flow of commerce through Texas ports and navigation channels, and ensuring strong and effective port security. Senator Hutchison has long been a champion for
Hutchison helped pass, in 2006, the SAFE Port Act, which authorized random inspection of containers, established minimum standards and procedures for security containers bound for the U.S. and implemented an improved container targeting system.
She also offered an amendment to the Act, which passed and became law,adding hundreds of additional Customs and Border Protection officers to inspect incoming shipments.
Hutchison is an active supporter of the Port Security Grant Program, which has provided more than $200 million to Texas ports over the past six years.
PHA Managing Director Wade Battles, who serves as this year's president of the Texas Ports Association, called Hutchison a "true champion" and said, "we're glad to have her on our team.
"She has proven herself to be a consistent and persistent advocate on behalf of Texas ports who has demonstratively helped deliver much-needed resources to ensure our successful -- and safe operation."