Senate passes law preventing sale of port property

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The state Senate unanimously passed a bill Tuesday that would prohibit the sale or long-term lease of Virginia Port Authority property.

The bill was submitted by Sen. John Miller, D-Newport News, in response to three bids submitted last year to buy the port’s operating rights. Although none of the proposals include the outright purchase of port property, the proposals would include a purchase of the port’s operating rights for between 30 and 60 years.

Miller’s bill would also prohibit this agreement, by prohibiting the lease of any port operations for longer than 20 years.

In addition to the three bids, the bill also targets ongoing negotiations Virginia port officials are having with APM Terminals to operate its new terminal in Portsmouth. APM completed its state-of-the-art terminal in late 2007 to take part of the rapidly growing container traffic at the Port of Virginia.

The terminal failed to gain the expected traffic as the global economic downturn hurt shipping.

The bill would allow the authority to enter into public-private partnerships for operations, but require that:

  • the state share in profits
  • the state and company share control of operations;;
  • the state not give any property to the private company.


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