Senate passes bill that gives them oversight of Port of Wilm. sale

By Peter MacArthur/The Associated P 9:55am, January 16, 2013 - Updated 10:12pm, January 16, 2013
The state Senate has narrowly approved a bill preventing the Markell administration from privatizing operations at the Port of Wilmington without the consent of the General Assembly.

Democratic Senator Bobby Marshall of Wilmington is the measure's main sponsor. He says the bill is needed to add clarity to a deal being talked about that would give privately-held, Texas-based Kinder Morgan responsibility of the port.

"I think it's imperative that we move forward. There are dock workers, longshoremen, businesses inside and outside of the port, that rely on us to make the right decisions on the future of the Port, and addition, we have the fiduciary responsibility to protect the interests of Delaware taxpayers," says Marshall.

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The state has operated the port through the Diamond State Port Corporation since the mid 1990's.

State economic development director Alan Levin urged senators to delay action on the bill, saying it could upset delicate negotiations with Kinder Morgan. Levin said Kinder Morgan was wrapping up its due diligence and that officials hoped to have a final offer from the company soon.

Lawmakers have expressed concerns that a for-profit corporation might cut jobs if it takes over the port.

The measure now goes to the House.

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