Seattle, Tacoma port commissioners need to approve legal entity to create Seaport Alliance.

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Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill giving the ports of Seattle and Tacoma the ability to form a port development authority as the governance structure of the Seaport Alliance.

The port staffs had been pursing the creation of a public development authority, like Pike Place Market or the Seattle Art Museum, since December when the two commissions gave them the go-ahead. The passed legislation evolved to a similar port development authority (PDA).

A bill was introduced to the House of Representatives in January, and was approved in March. The Senate approved the bill earlier this month, followed by Inslee’s signature Friday.

If approved by the commissioners, the PDA creates a separate entity for contracting, auditing and reporting purposes; allows the joint commissions to meet while remaining subject to the Open Public Meeting Act and public records disclosure; clarifies status as a tax-exempt entity, and facilitates development of the new team and governance structure through the existence of a separate entity, according to a joint release.

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Since October when the ports first announced the formation of the Seaport Alliance, which will combine the two ports’ marine cargo operations, they have been meeting publicly and privately to work out the details.

With things moving slower than expected, the commissioners approved an extension in March.

The original plan was to receive the federal commission’s approval to form the Seaport Alliance by June 15 and have the two ports formalize it July 1. That date is now estimated to be Aug. 1.