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Rockefeller sets hearing on his Cruise Passenger Protection Act

Senate Commerce Committee
Rockefeller scheduled July hearing on S. 1340
Senate Commerce Committee chairman Jay Rockefeller scheduled a full committee hearing on the Cruise Passenger Protection Act. The hearing will take place during the July work period.

Rockefeller introduced S. 1340 in July last year in connection with a cruise ship safety hearing where the committee heard testimony from, among others, 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.

Other 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 companies already voluntarily report crime data on their websites.

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.

In May, Rockefeller, Blumenthal and Markey wrote to the US Coast Guard commandant to call for USCG's cruise ship inspection findings to be made available to the public and asked how the information will be used to hold the ships with safety problems accountable.