Summary: H.R.2204 — 105th Congress (1997-1998)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
House agreed to Senate amendment with amendment (10/15/1998)

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

Title I: Authorization

Title II: Coast Guard Management

Title III: Marine Safety

Title IV: Miscellaneous

Title V: Administrative Process for Jones Act Waivers

Title VI: Harmful Algal Blooms and Hypoxia

Coast Guard Authorization Act of 1998 - Title I: Authorization - Authorizes appropriations to the Coast Guard for FY 1998 and 1999 for: (1) operation and maintenance; (2) acquisition, construction, rebuilding, and improvement of aids to navigation, shore and offshore facilities, vessels, and aircraft; (3) research, development, testing, and evaluation; (4) retired pay, payments under the Retired Serviceman's Family Protection and Survivor Benefit Plans, and payments for medical care of retired personnel and their dependents; (5) alteration or removal of bridges constituting obstructions to navigation and for personnel and administrative costs associated with the Bridge Alteration Program; and (6) environmental compliance and restoration at Coast Guard facilities.

(Sec. 102) Authorizes Coast Guard end-of-year strength and military training student loads.

(Sec. 103) Authorizes additional appropriations for FY 1999 to the Department of Transportation for capital expenses related to LORAN-C System navigation infrastructure. Requires the Secretary of Transportation to submit to the Congress a plan for cost-sharing arrangements among Federal agencies for such capital expenses.

Title II: Coast Guard Management - Amends Federal law to remove the dollar limit on severance pay for regular Coast Guard warrant officers. Grants the Secretary of the department in which the Coast Guard is operating discretion to deny severance pay to a separated officer upon a determination that the conditions of the officer's discharge do not warrant such type of pay.

(Sec. 202) Authorizes honorary recognition of individuals and organizations, including State and local governments and commercial and nonprofit organizations, that significantly contribute to Coast Guard programs, missions, or operations by awarding plaques, medals, and similar items paid for by the Coast Guard.

(Sec. 203) Amends Federal law to authorizes the Commandant of the Coast Guard to lease commercial vehicles to transport next of kin of eligible retired Coast Guard military personnel to attend the service member's funeral at a national cemetery.

(Sec. 204) Authorizes the Commandant of the Coast Guard to use up to $25,000 to provide economic adjustment assistance for the City of Novato, California, for the cost of revising the Hamilton Reuse Planning Authority's reuse plan as a result of the Coast Guard's request for housing at Hamilton Air Force Base.

(Sec. 205) Amends Federal law to authorize special agents of the Coast Guard Investigative Service (currently, only civilian special agents of the Coast Guard) to execute and serve any warrant or other process issued under the authority of the United States, and, under certain conditions, to make arrests without warrants, in addition to their current authority to carry firearms.

(Sec. 206) Requires the Administrator of the General Services Administration and the Commandant of the Coast Guard to report to the Congress on the current procedures used to dispose of excess Coast Guard property, and make recommendations to improve such procedures.

(Sec. 207) Amends Federal shipping law to prohibit the Secretary of Transportation from implementing any regulation that would promulgate any new maritime user fee which was not implemented and collected before January 1, 1998, including a fee or charge for any domestic icebreaking service or any other navigational assistance service.

(Sec. 208) Directs the Commandant of the Coast Guard to report to the Congress on the use of the Coast Guard's aids to navigation system.

Title III: Marine Safety - Amends the Ports and Waterways Safety Act and Federal law relating to vessels and seamen to define "navigable waters of the United States" to include all waters of the U.S. territorial sea as described in a specified presidential proclamation. Makes changes relating to U.S. navigable waters in provisions relating to the operation of vessels, uninspected vessel safety equipment, recreational vessels, uninspected commercial fishing industry vessels, and vessel pilots.

(Sec. 302) Amends Federal law relating to the operation of vessels to impose civil monetary penalties for interfering with the safe operation of a vessel.

(Sec. 303) Mandates (current law allows) establishment of the Great Lakes Pilotage Advisory Committee and modifies requirements regarding the Committee, including concerning its duties, operations, and composition and its members' compensation.

(Sec. 304) Amends Federal shipping law with regard to merchant seamen to mandate post-accident drug and alcohol testing. Increases from $1,000 to $5,000 the civil penalty enforcing alcohol and dangerous drug testing requirements, including the penalty for first violations. Requires the Secretary to establish procedures for post serious marine casualty alcohol testing of crew members and other responsible persons.

(Sec. 305) Provides for protecting marine casualty investigations from mandatory release under the Freedom of Information Act or other Federal laws.

(Sec. 306) Directs the Secretary of Transportation to study and report to the Congress on implementation and enforcement of the International Safety Management Code. Requires the Secretary to develop a policy to achieve full compliance with and effective implementation of the Code.

(Sec. 307) Amends the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 to revise the definition of oil.

Requires the Commandant of the Coast Guard to report to the Congress with regard to the substances to be classified as oils under the Federal Water Pollution Control Act and the Oil Pollution Act of 1990.

(Sec. 308) Directs the Secretary, through the Coast Guard and the Maritime Administration, to establish a task force to assess the adequacy of the nation's marine transportation system to operate in a safe, efficient, secure, and environmentally sound manner.

(Sec. 309) Directs the Secretary to assess and report to the Congress on the use of emergency position indicating beacons (EPIRBS) and similar devices by operators of recreational vessels on the Intracoastal Waterway and operators of such vessels beyond the Boundary Line.

(Sec. 310) Directs the Commandant to report to the Congress regarding search and rescue helicopter coverage of waters out to 50 miles from the territorial sea of Maine and other States.

(Sec. 311) Directs the Secretary of the department in which the Coast Guard is operating to promulgate regulations for towing vessel and barge safety for the waters of the Northeast, as well as regulations relating to anchoring and barge retrieval systems.

(Sec. 312) Authorizes the Secretary of Transportation to take appropriate actions to ensure Coast Guard establishment and operation of a helicopter air rescue capability located at Gabreski Airport, Westhampton, New York, that provides air rescue capability from that location from April 15 to October 15 each year.

(Sec. 313) Amends the Ports and Waterways Safety Act to authorize the Secretary of Transportation to implement and enforce two mandatory ship reporting systems with respect to vessels subject to such reporting systems entering specified areas of the Atlantic Ocean.

Title IV: Miscellaneous - Removes a requirement that, in order to be eligible for documentation, a vessel must not be titled in a State. Declares that a documented vessel shall not be titled or required to display numbers under certain provisions and authorizes surrender of any State title certificate for a vessel covered by a preferred mortgage, but only if the mortgagee consents to the surrender. Modifies: (1) the circumstances in which a secured indebtedness may have any rate of interest agreed to by the parties; and (2) the steps a mortgagee may take on default of a preferred mortgage. Gives district courts original jurisdiction (exclusive of State courts) over certain preferred mortgage default actions regarding a vessel titled in a State.

(Sec. 402) Deems land and improvements comprising the Coast Guard Reserve training facility in Jacksonville, Florida, to be surplus property and mandates their disposal at fair market value, giving the city of Jacksonville the right of first refusal.

(Sec. 403) Authorizes issuance of documentation for 60 specified vessels. Amends the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 1996 to deem a specified vessel to have been constructed in the United States as of the date of its original delivery. Authorizes issuance of documentation for six specified vessels.

(Sec. 404) Authorizes the conveyance, without consideration, and subject to a certain reversionary interest, of the U.S. Coast Guard Recreation Facility Nahant, Massachusetts, to the town of Nahant, Massachusetts, unless the Commandant of the Coast Guard determines that such conveyance would not provide a public benefit.

(Sec. 405) Deems the lift bridge over the back channel of the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to unreasonably obstruct navigation.

(Sec. 406) Amends the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 to except from specified limits on vessel liability for oil spills any tank vessel designated in its certificate of inspection as an oil spill response vessel that is used solely for removal (thus requiring such vessels to maintain financial responsibility at the level required for vessels other than oil tank vessels).

(Sec. 407) Authorizes the conveyance to Jacksonville University, Jacksonville, Florida, without consideration, of the Long Branch Rear Range Light, Jacksonville, Florida.

(Sec. 408) Prohibits a vessel from transporting Government-impelled cargoes for one year after it has been (or after the vessel's operator has had, on more than one occasion, a vessel) detained and determined to be substandard for violation of an international safety convention.

(Sec. 409) Authorizes the Commandant of the Coast Guard to recognize Grand Haven, Michigan, as "Coast Guard City, USA."

(Sec. 410) Authorizes the conveyance, without consideration, and subject to a certain reversionary interest, of the Coast Guard Communication Station Boston Marshfield Receiver Site, Massachusetts, to the Town of Marshfield, Massachusetts.

(Sec. 411) Amends the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to modify the definition of "remove" (adding references to damage prevention) and to define "removal costs." Modifies requirements regarding the exemption from liability relating to the National Contingency Plan or a directive from the President. Excludes from the definition of "discharge" discharges incidental to mechanical removal authorized by the President.

(Sec. 412) Deems a specified vessel to be a recreational vessel.

Authorizes the Secretary of Transportation to establish a pilot program to exempt a vessel of at least 300 gross tons from certain inspection requirements, as a seagoing motor vessel, if the vessel does not: (1) carry any cargo or passengers for hire; (2) engages in commercial service, commercial fisheries, or oceanographic research; and (3) engage in towing.

(Sec. 413) Authorizes conveyance, without consideration, and subject to certain reversionary interests, of a portion of the Coast Guard Station Ocracoke, North Carolina, to the State of North Carolina.

(Sec. 414) Mandates conveyance, without consideration, and subject to certain reversionary interests, of a specified parcel of real property (with a building) in Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan, to American Legion Post No. 3 in Sault as a clubhouse for that Post.

(Sec. 415) Directs the Secretary of Transportation to continue to implement and enforce the U.S. Coast Guard 1997 Enforcement Policy for Cargo Residues on the Great Lakes with respect to dry bulk cargo residue disposal.

(Sec. 416) Authorizes conveyance, without consideration, and subject to certain reversionary interests, of certain lighthouses located in Michigan, New York, Washington, Alaska, South Carolina, and Minnesota to various historical societies, museums, and preservation societies.

(Sec. 417) Authorizes conveyance, without consideration, and subject to certain reversionary interests, of the Coast Guard LORAN Station Nantucket, Nantucket, Massachusetts, to the Town of Nantucket, Massachusetts, unless the Conveyance would not provide a public benefit.

(Sec. 418) Authorizes conveyance, without consideration, of two specified decommissioned Coast Guard vessels to Canvasback Mission, Inc. to use for providing medical services to Central and South Pacific island nations, subject to their availability to the U.S. Government in time of war or national emergency.

(Sec. 419) Amends the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 1996 to increase from two to three years the time for the retention in the National Defense Reserve Fleet of the vessel S-S Red Oak Victory (authorized to be conveyed to the City of Richmond Museum Association, Richmond, California).

(Sec. 420) Mandates the transfer of administrative jurisdiction over the Ocracoke Light Station to the Secretary of the Interior as part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

(Sec. 422) Amends the Oceans Act of 1992 to deem not to be a tank vessel for the purposes of any law any vessel configured, outfitted, and operated primarily for dredging operations, and engaged in dredging operations, which transfers fuel to other vessels engaged in the same dredging operations without charge.

(Sec. 423) Amends the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 to direct the Secretary of Transportation to develop and report to specified congressional committees on an equivalency evaluation procedure that maintains a high standard of environmental protection, while encouraging innovative ship design through application of a proposed environmental index for assessing overall outflow performance due to collisions and groundings to double hull tank vessels and alternative designs currently under consideration.

(Sec. 424) Amends the Shipping Act of 1984 to provide for vessel sharing agreements.

(Sec. 425) Requires reports to the Congress by the Commandant of the Coast Guard and the Secretary of Transportation on Small Waterplane Area Twin Hull technology and on marine guidance systems, respectively.

(Sec. 426) Directs the Administrator of the Panama Canal Commission to report to specified congressional committees on tonnage calculation methodology for purposes of charging tolls for the carriage of on-deck containers.

(Sec. 427) Authorizes the Secretary of Transportation, at no cost to the Government, to convey: (1) two named vessels to The Victory Ship, Inc., Tampa, Florida, for use as a memorial to the Victory class of ships; and (2) a third named vessel to a purchaser for use in humanitarian relief efforts, including the provision of water and humanitarian goods to developing nations.

(Sec. 429) Amends the Federal Maritime Commission Authorization Act of 1990 with regard to the applicability of authority to release restrictions and encumbrances.

(Sec. 430) Authorizes the issuance of an appropriate endorsement for employment in the coastwise trade for a named barge, with certain limitations. Sets the termination for such coastwise endorsement.

(Sec. 431) Authorizes the Secretary of Transportation to guarantee certain obligations under the Merchant Marine Act, 1936 for two named vessels planned for construction to be purchased by the American West Steamboat Company for operation in Alaska, Washington, and Oregon.

(Sec. 432) Amends the Hydrographic Services Improvement Act of 1998 to authorize appropriations for various charting, hydrographic, geodetic, and measurement functions as well as to repeal certain reporting requirements.

Title V: Administrative Process for Jones Act Waivers - Authorizes the Secretary of Transportation to issue a certificate of documentation with endorsement for the coastwise trade as a small passenger vessel or an uninspected passenger vessel for an eligible vessel authorized to carry no more than 12 passengers for hire, if the Secretary determines that the employment of the vessel in the coastwise trade will not adversely affect U.S. vessel builders or the coastwise trade business of any person who employs vessels built in the United States in that business.

(Sec. 503) Authorizes the Secretary to revoke an endorsement if employment of the vessel in the coastwise trade has substantially changed since issuance of the endorsement, and: (1) the vessel is employed other than as a small passenger vessel or an uninspected passenger vessel; or (2) the employment of the vessel adversely affects U.S. vessel builders or the coastwise trade business of any person who employs vessels built in the United States.

Title VI: Harmful Algal Blooms and Hypoxia - Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act of 1998 - Directs the President, through the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources of the National Science and Technology Council, to establish an Inter-Agency Task Force on Harmful Algal Blooms and Hypoxia. Requires the Task Force to submit: (1) to the Congress an assessment which examines the ecological and economic consequences of harmful algal blooms and hypoxia in U.S. coastal waters; and (2) to the Congress and the President an integrated assessment of hypoxia in the northern Gulf of Mexico that examines various specified factors including the social and economic costs and benefits of methods for reducing nutrient loads. Directs the President to develop and submit to the Congress a plan for reducing, mitigating, and controlling hypoxia in the northern Gulf of Mexico.

(Sec. 605) Authorizes appropriations to the Secretary of Commerce for research, education, and monitoring activities related to prevention, reduction, and control of harmful algal blooms and hypoxia.