The Delta Grassroots Caucus (DGC) is a broad coalition of grassroots leaders in the eight-state Delta region. DGC is also a founding partner of the Economic Equality Caucus,
which advocates for economic equality across the USA.

Dramatic Resurgence of Delta Queen campaignt & Oct. 17-18 Delta event facts:

Posted on July 27, 2013 at 10:04 AM

The Delta Grassroots Caucus praises legislation that is now gaining powerful momentum in Congress to allow the historic steamboat the Delta Queen to return to its travels along the Mississippi River and its tributaries, thus restoring a national historic treasure to America’s inland waterways. The bill passed the House transportation committee and has bipartisan support in both houses of Congress.

Detailed information about the Save the Delta Campaign is below in this posting.

Delta Regional Conference, Memphis Agri-Center, Oct. 17-18–Basic Information

Delta Heritage tourism issues and the large-scale regional issues such as job creation, the farm bill, hunger and nutrition, health care, transportation, broadband and other infrastructure, will be among the important addresses addressed at the Delta regional conference at the Memphis Agri-Center International on Oct. 17-18, 2013.

EARLY REGISTRATION: You complete early registration by sending in the $125 early registration fees (or $100 for those who have paid their annual membership dues) by Sept. 30.

GROUP DISCOUNT: If you can get a group of five or more together for early registration, we will give a group discount down to $75 each.

LATE REGISTRATION AFTER SEPT. 30 IS SUBSTANTIALLY HIGHER: After Sept. 30 the early fee level ends and all late registration fees go up to $150. We have bills coming due as early as August and many others for this conference and the registration fees are the two sources of funding to cover the conference costs, along with sponsorships.

It causes major logistical difficulties if so many people wait until right before or the day of the conference to register. We want to avoid a logjam when people give the checks at the front desk. We have a new policy of strongly discouraging anyone from waiting until the time of the conference to register.

We do not want the higher late registration fees; what we would like is to get the registration fees in hand by Sept. 30. You will save money by registering early.

Please make out the early registration fee check to “Delta Caucus” and send to our office in the Washington, DC area by Sept. 30:

Delta Caucus

5030 Purslane Place

Waldorf, MD 20601

The purpose for the difference between the early and late registration fees is to give an incentive for people to send in the fees in a timely fashion.


OPENING SESSION: Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013, 4:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. at Memphis Agri-Center International

FRIDAY SESSION: Friday, Oct. 18, 2013 from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Memphis Agri-Center International

GROUP HOTEL: Group hotel is the Courtyard by Marriott at Memphis-Germantown.

To get the group discount hotel rate, call the Courtyard by Marriott at Memphis-Germantown at (901) 751-0230 and say you are with the Delta Caucus. There are king rooms for $104 and doubles for $109.

Many people will want to stay just for the night of Oct. 17, check out the morning of Oct. 18. The conference is scheduled to end about 3 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 18.

Memphis cultural, historical and musical attractions: Some people who have not seen the major attractions in Memphis may want to stay on for Friday, Oct. 18. Memphis offers such attractions as the Beale Street blues and jazz halls such as B.B. King’s place, Graceland, and others.

The National Civil Rights Museum is open on Saturday morning, Oct. 19, for those who wanted to stay on Friday night, Oct. 18. For many of us the greatest attraction is the National Civil Rights Museum, which has great exhibits and videos about the history of the civil rights movement and is based at the Lorraine Motel where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in 1968.

Dramatic Resurgence of Save the Delta Queen Campaign

House Support for Delta Queen legislation: “We commend the great leadership of a bipartisan group in the House of Representatives who are supporting this legislation, including Rep. Rick Crawford (R-Arkansas), Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tennessee), Rep. Wm. Lacy Clay (D-Missouri), its author, Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) and a total of 22 sponsors. The bill, HR 1961, passed the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee by voice vote on July 17. Now we are poised to win passage for the full House this fall,” said Caucus Director Lee Powell. Speaker of the US House John Boehner of Ohio is supportive.

Congressman Crawford utilized his position on the transportation committee to support the bill. Rep. Crawford’s district covers a huge expanse of the Mississippi River from the Arkansas-Missouri line to the Arkansas-Louisiana line. The bill has received tireless support from its author, Congressman Chabot of Ohio where the boat used to travel, Congressman Steve Cohen of Memphis, Tennessee in the heart of the Delta region, and Congressman Clay from Missouri, among many others.

Senate Support for Delta Queen legislation: “In the Senate, Senators Mary Landrieu (D-Louisiana) and David Vitter (R-Louisiana) and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), have introduced an identical companion bill (S. 1022), and we encourage all our Senators to support the bill across the eight Delta states from St. Louis, Missouri and southern Illinois down to New Orleans and east to Alabama (where the Delta Queen also used to travel),” Powell said.

If the legislation is passed through House and Senate, the Delta Queen will be permitted to travel along the rivers once again. Congress needs to pass an exemption to the Safety of Life at Seas Act (SOLAS), which was intended to apply to ocean-going vessels but was caught in its technical provisions when the Coast Guard expanded SOLAS to include boats operating on inland waterways–the only boat that was affected by this expansion. Due to its exemplary safety record, Congress approved the exemption for 42 years, from 1966 to 2008.

Due to management concerns and other complications, the exemption was not continued in 2008, and the Queen has been a floating hotel in Chattanooga, Tennessee the last few years. In the earlier vote over the exemption, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) and then US Senator from Illinois Barack Obama supported the Delta Queen, again demonstrating the bipartisan appeal.

“This is surprisingly good news that the legislation has such extensive support, and the situation has obviously changed remarkably since 2008,” Powell said.

“With the American Queen having returned to the Mississippi last year, and the most famous of all the steamboats, the Delta Queen, now enjoying a resurgence of support, steamboating on the Mighty Mississippi is making a big comeback!” Powell said.

Excellent management team led by Cornel Martin of New Orleans: The Delta Queen is currently operated under a lease agreement from the current owners by DQSC, Inc., which plans to buy the steamboat and return it to plying the Mississippi if Congress passes the exemption. Cornel Martin, President and CEO of DQSC, Inc., formerly was a staffer on the US House of Representatives Coast Guard subcommittee and later worked for the Delta Queen. He is based in New Orleans and is heading up the group of investors planning to buy the Queen–although of course the exemption will have to be passed to make the entire effort worthwhile.

The Delta Queen legislation is supported by the Seafarers International Union, the American Maritime Officers, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The Delta Queen is designated as a National Historic Landmark.

The vessel is the nation’s oldest passenger steamboat, it is the last of the Mark Twain era of steamboats, and continues a 200-year tradition of commercial cargo and passenger steamboat transportation.

Delta Queen’s exemplary safety record: The Delta Queen has an exemplary safety record, having been operated safely for 80 years. It is never more than a mile from shore since it travels along the rivers, and it has a double-steel hull.

The upper parts of the boat have wood, but in recent years literally tons of wood were taken out and replaced with steel and other non-combustible materials. The Queen has sophisticated smoke detection systems, an elaborate sprinkler system, and a 24-hour fire watchman.

The Delta Queen had to undergo rigorous safety inspections from the Coast Guard before each journey, and passed those examinations with flying colors. The current management continues to maintain the boat’s system of engines and boilers in the hope that the Queen may be returned to use as an overnight passenger cruising vessel.

“With Cornel Martin’s great experience and knowledge of safety and other steamboating issues, along with his team of committed investors and managers, the future will look very bright indeed if we can pass the exemption and DQSC, Inc. can manage the Delta Queen’s return to the Mississippi and her tributaries,” Powell said.

The Delta Queen used to make stops from New Orleans to Natchez, Mississippi to Helena-West Helena, Arkansas to Memphis to the Missouri ports and along the Ohio River and many other heartland communities. The Delta Grassroots Caucus partners would be delighted to see her travels resume.

Support from Seafarers International Union: The Seafarers International Union is united with management on this effort. In a statement to Chairman Bill Shuster (who supports the legislation), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, August Tellez, executive vice president supported HR 1961 and said “This particular vessel has been a source of jobs for many merchant mariners over its tenure as an overnight-cruise vessel and it can be again. Unfortunately, absent the Congressional waiver afforded by this legislation, these jobs will forever be lost.”

Support from American Martime Officers: In another letter to the House committee, Michael Murphy of the American Maritime Officers wrote, “Bringing the Delta Queen back into operational status is a worthy effort. It will help create jobs through work that needs to be done to the vessel, it will create jobs for mariners, and it will contribute to the tourism economy of several states.”

In a “Dear Colleague” letter of July 11 from Rep. Cohen, Rep. Clay, Rep. David McKinley, and Rep. Chabot, to the Members of the House of Representatives, the Delta Queen bill sponsors said: “Since losing the exemption, the Delta Queen has been moored to a dock serving as a floating hotel. Without the Congressional waiver to operate, her preservation as a river-faring vessel grows ever more difficult. Worse yet, she could soon be gutted and lost from the rivers forever.”

Appreciation for Vicki Webster, famous Delta Queen advocate: The Delta Caucus would also like to express our appreciation to Vickie Webster, the famous long-time advocate for the Delta Queen based in Cincinnati, Ohio, for providing us with technical information about these issues.