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Two weeks after Key Bridge collapse, Gov. Wes Moore signs PORT Act into law

Wes Moore

Posted on April 11, 2024

Exactly two weeks after the Key Bridge collapse, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore signed an emergency piece of legislation into law directing assistance to workers and businesses impacted by the sudden slowdown of shipments at the Port of Baltimore.

The Maryland PORT Act directs the Departments of Commerce and Labor to establish funds for thousands of workers and businesses impacted by the catastrophic bridge collapse. The legislation was introduced just days later, sponsored by lawmakers representing the areas surrounding the Port of Baltimore, including Senate President Bill Ferguson, Sen. Johnny Ray Salling, Dels. Luke Clippinger, Mark Edelson, Robin Lewis, Rob Long, and Ric Metzgar.

Before signing the legislation Tuesday afternoon, Gov. Wes Moore talked about his meeting earlier in the day with members of Maryland’s Congressional delegation on Capitol Hill to urge federal action on the bridge rebuild effort.

“We had a chance to stand with every single member of the Maryland delegation. Democrats and Republicans collectively standing together saying in this moment, Maryland is going to do its part,” Gov. Moore said.

He added that the collapse was not just “a Maryland catastrophe this was a national catastrophe.”

The money for the PORT Act will come out of the state’s Rainy Day Fund, though legislative leaders anticipate at least some of the funding to be paid back from federal dollars as the response to the Key Bridge nationally continues.

“I’m very happy because we’re able to do what we want to do for our workers. They are going to be getting their funds, they won’t have to worry about their funds and groceries,” Sen. Salling said after the final day of session, a Republican from Baltimore County who co-sponsored the bill. “As soon as it’s signed, it’s law. That’s really important.”

The newly signed law will allow workers to apply for assistance through the state, including people who may not be eligible for traditional unemployment insurance payments, like contract workers. Assistance will also be available for businesses to ensure employees can stay on the payroll instead of laying them off.

“The legislation will empower our administration to stay nimble in our response to the collapse; even though the session is now over, it does not mean our response will cease,” Gov. Moore said.

Gov. Moore noted the legislation also includes a permanent scholarship fund for the families of the six construction workers who were killed while they worked on the Key Bridge before the cargo ship hit a Key Bridge support beam.

Three of the victims — Maynor Yasir Suazo-Sandoval, 38, Alejandro Hernandez Fuentes, 35, and Dorlian Ronial Castillo Cabrera, 26 — have been recovered from the Patapsco River. The other victims, Jose Mynor Lopez, Carlos Hernandez, and Miguel Luna have yet to be recovered.


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