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Rockefeller reschedules Senate committee hearing on his cruise safety bill

Senate Commerce Committee
Rockefeller seeks to improve consumer protections for cruise passengers
Sen. Jay Rockefeller rescheduled the Senate Commerce Committee hearing on his Cruise Passenger Protection Act to July 23.

Rockefeller introduced S. 1340 in July last year in connection with a cruise ship safety hearing where the committee heard testimony from, among others, US Coast Guard Rear Adm. Joseph Servidio, Carnival Cruise Lines' Gerry Cahill, Royal Caribbean's Adam Goldstein and former National Transportation Safety Board chairman Mark Rosenker.

The bill amends federal shipping law to direct the Secretary of Transportation to develop standards for shipowners to provide passengers with a summary of key terms of passage contracts upfront and before they are binding.

Further provisions call for the Secretary of Transportation to establish an advisory committee on passenger vessel consumer protection, a passenger complaint hotline and a website with a statistical compilation of reported incidents of missing persons, crimes and other information.

The major cruise operators have been voluntarily reporting crime data on their websites in the past year.

Joining Rockefeller, a Democrat from West Virginia, as co-sponsors of S. 1340 are Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut; Ed Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts; and Christopher Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut.

After its first reading, the bill has remained in committee.

Rep. Doris Matsui, a Democrat from California, introduced a similar bill in the House of Representatives a year ago. H.R. 2800 has nine co-sponsors and remains in committee.

The hearing is to start at 2:45 p.m. in the Russell Senate Office Building. It will be webcast live on the Senate Commerce Committee website.