NMMA’s State Government Relations division monitors legislation and regulatory issues in all 50 states, pursuing proactive goals and defending the marine industry against potentially harmful government initiatives.
This page provides frequent updates on legislation and regulatory actions that directly involve the recreational marine industry. Click on state name to learn about its key issues.
Current Legislative and Regulatory Issues:
NMMA Urges California Governor Brown to Veto S.B. 436
Two weeks ago, NMMA, BoatUS and Recreational Boaters of California successfully convinced legislators to remove most of the language that would have allowed for the misuse of tax dollars raised from boaters. These taxes are and meant to be used only to support boating-related programs and infrastructure. Thankfully, the Harbors and Watercraft Revolving Fund (HWRF) won’t be used – this year -- to fix erosion of streets and property. However, the bill still could set a bad precedent by allowing $1,000,000 to be misused to repair erosion to a specific, local street. Boat registration fees, fuel taxes and other taxes paid by recreational boaters help pay for docks, dredging, loans for local boating infrastructure and local marine patrols. An NMMA “Action Alert” gave manufacturers a quick way to urge Governor Brown to veto the legislation. We have until Oct. 13 to push for a veto. If you represent a California marine business please click this link to contact the Governor. Thank you to the NMMA members who used our software system to quickly send letters to the Governor.
New York Governor Signs Comprehensive Boating Safety Package into Law
New York boaters will soon be required to pass a boater safety course before taking to the water. The new law will take effect May 1, 2014 and apply to all boaters born after May 1, 1996. New boat owners are exempt from the requirement for 120 days after the date of purchase. NMMA, a strong supporter of mandatory safety education, lobbied for a provision to allow online course. Internet courses are not specifically allowed. However, the Parks and Recreation commissioner was given the latitude to allow them, at his/her discretion. While New York is ranked 7th in boat registrations, it is ranked 5th for deaths from boating accidents. New York is the 46th state to make boater education mandatory, however the laws vary widely in scope and type.
California Fee for AIS Control
The California Division of Parks and Recreation has just released its proposed emergency regulation for the implementation of AB 2443, which imposes a fee, likely to be $8, on vessel registration. The new revenue will be distributed as grants for Quagga mussel abatement. The law exempts all vessels that operate exclusively in marine waters. Boat owners will self-designate their boats as “marine only” on their vessel registration forms.
Illinois Boater Education
The Senate Special Committee on Watercraft Safety conducted a hearing this week on a proposal to phase-in mandatory boater education for all boaters. If adopted, all boat operators born after January 1, 1990 will be required to pass a boater safety course, which could be taken online. The mandate will go into effect in 2015.The committee also considered raising the minimum age to operate a boat from 10 years old to 12 years old. In its testimony, NMMA supported mandatory education, but encouraged the committee to support a more rapid implementation schedule that would increase the affected age group by five years for every calendar year. PWIA encouraged the committee to increase the minimum age to operate a PWC from 12 years old to 16 years old.
Wisconsin Boating Under the Influence
The General Assembly passed legislation strengthening the definition of “intoxicant” to include a substance that is inhaled, ingested, or otherwise consumed to induce intoxication. The bill is now being considered in the Senate.
Copper Bottom Paint
NMMA continues its effort to encourage MTA’s, elected officials and regulators to encourage the EPA to expidite its plan to review and approve the use of the Copper Marine Biotic Ligand Model (BLM) for testing the copper levels found in saltwater. BLM would provide more precise testing for toxicity in specific water bodies. BLM testing found levels of dissolved copper much higher than the national EPA standards still are not toxic to sensitive marine fauna. The purpose of the grassroots initiative is to get the EPA to put a high priority on approving BLM for saltwater. BLM already is approved for use in freshwater.
Florida Seeks Comments to Anchoring and Mooring Pilot Program
Florida enacted legislation in 2009 that prevented local governments from restricting the anchoring of cruising boats. As part of that legislation, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) created a Pilot Program that allowed five local governments to develop local anchoring regulations outside their permitted mooring field, but only after consultation with the boating community and receiving FWC approval. The five municipalities that developed the often-disparate anchorage programs were St. Augustine, Stuart/Martin County, St. Petersburg, Sarasota and Monroe County/Marathon/Key West. The program expires by law on July 1, 2014. The Fish and Wildlife Commission wants local boaters, cruisers and residents to help it evaluate the effectiveness and fairness of the Florida Anchoring and Mooring Pilot Program. The FWC survey could greatly influence how and where boaters can anchor throughout the state. Click here to take the quick survey.
Boaters and Anglers Advocate for Access in the FL Keys
The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS) is revising the Sanctuary’s rules that regulate boating, fishing and other activities. The FKNMS already designates management zones and areas where boating and fishing are either limited or prohibited. The revised 10-year plan, which will be in place in 2015, will likely enlarge those areas.
NMMA has several concerns about recommendations under consideration by an influential citizen’s advisory committee, including:
The Sanctuary Advisory Council will meet October 15, 2013, 9:00 am - 4:30 pm, at the Islander Resort in Islamorada, FL.
Click here to learn more about the FL Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) Program
The State Trade and Export Promotion Program (STEP) is a 3-year pilot trade and export initiative authorized by the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010. Funded by federal grants and matching funds from the states, the STEP Program is designed to help increase the number of small businesses that are exporting and to raise the value of exports for those small businesses that are currently exporting so they can grow and create jobs.
How STEP Grants Will Help Small businesses:
The STEP grants will help provide:
All 50 states, Washington D.C. and U.S. Territories were invited to apply for STEP grant awards.
Forty-seven states, Puerto Rico, District of Columbia, Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands won a STEP grant award. All states and territories that submitted their applications on time received STEP grants.
Through the STEP grants, SBA awarded approximately $30 million, supporting $43.4 million in total projects costs. SBA is authorized to grant up to $30 million to states each year under the program.
For more information, visit the STEP web page at: http://www.sba.gov/about-offices-content/1/2889/resources/14315