General Cruising

Subject
Topic: Maryland Boaters and Cruisers: MAJOR ALER
T3RockHall
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Reposted from thehulltruth.com:

HB 140

Department of Legislative Services

Maryland General Assembly

2006 Session

FISCAL AND POLICY NOTE

House Bill 140 (Delegate Pugh, et al.)

Environmental Matters

Public Safety - Personal Flotation Devices - Mandatory Use

This bill requires an individual operating a recreational vessel to wear a personal flotation device (PFD) that is securely and properly attached. The bill prohibits an individual from operating or allowing the operation of a vessel while there is present in the vessel an individual not wearing a PFD that is securely and properly attached. The prohibitions apply regardless of age or size of the vessel. The mandatory PFD provisions would not apply to a vessel moored or anchored or to an individual below deck or in an enclosed cabin.

Fiscal Summary

State Effect: General fund expenditures could increase by $260,000 in FY 2007 only for the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to advertise the billís changes and to update

publications. Enforcement could be handled with existing resources. Potential increase in general fund revenues related to any increase in citations issued for violations.

(in dollars) FY 2007 FY 2008 FY 2009 FY 2010 FY 2011

GF Revenue - - - - -

GF Expenditure 260,000 0 0 0 0

Net Effect ($260,000) $0 $0 $0 $0

Note:() = decrease; GF = general funds; FF = federal funds; SF = special funds; - = indeterminate effect Local Effect: The bill would not materially affect local operations or finances.

Small Business Effect: Minimal.

HB 140 / Page 2

Analysis

Current Law: Except under specified conditions, a person is prohibited from operating or permitting the operation of a vessel under 21 feet in length while there is present in the vessel a child not wearing a PFD which is securely and properly attached to the child.

ďChildĒ means an individual who is under the age of seven years, regardless of the individualís weight, or weighs 50 pounds or less, regardless of the individualís age.

Beginning April 1, 2006, additional safety features will be required on PFDs worn by children under the age of four years. The mandatory PFD provisions do not apply to a vessel that is moored or anchored or to a child who is below deck or in an enclosed cabin.

Current State regulations require the use of PFDs while on a commercial whitewater trip; while on white water portions of designated streams; while waterskiing; and while using a personal watercraft. Current regulations also require the use of a PFD during the winter months on the Upper Potomac River and its tributaries.

The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) sets minimum safety standards for vessels and associated equipment. Federal regulations require that there be one USCG-approved PFD for each person on board the boat or being towed. All PFDs must be readily available, in serviceable condition, and of proper size.

Background: Several states require that children wear PFDs. The USCG recommends and several states require the use of PFDs for towed activities such as water skiing and other activities such as white-water boating, sailboarding, and operating personal watercraft. The National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA)

has developed model legislation relating to PFDs; it includes language mandating the use of PFDs by children, by persons engaged in watersports, and by persons on board a personal watercraft. Based on information provided by NASBLA, only a handful of states or territories (West Virginia, Mississippi, and American Samoa) have more broad mandatory PFD requirements.

State Expenditures: DNR estimates that the bill could result in an increase in general fund expenditures of nearly $5.1 million in fiscal 2007. DNRís estimate reflects the cost of hiring 40 Natural Resources Police (NRP) officers to enforce the billís requirements and two administrative officers and one administrative aide to manage and log data, provide educational training for the boating public and NRP officers, and prepare educational materials. It includes salaries, fringe benefits, one-time start-up costs (including the purchase of 20 vessels and 40 vehicles), and ongoing operating costs, including education and advertising costs as well as contractual services for towing noncompliant vessels. DNRís estimate is based primarily on the assumption that, under the bill, NRP contacts with boats would quadruple; DNR advises that it anticipates enormous resistance to the billís requirements by the boating public. According to DNR,current NRP officers would not be able to enforce the billís requirements and still respond to other incidents in a timely manner. DNRís out-year estimates average approximately $3.7 million annually between fiscal 2008 and 2011.

Legislative Services disagrees. First, without any actual experience under the bill, it is impossible to predict noncompliance. Second, given that federal law already requires a properly-sized PFD for each person on board, the billís changes could conceivably make it easier for NRP to enforce the PFD requirements. Under current law, PFDs are only required to be worn by children under specified ages, but there must be a PFD on board for each additional person on the boat. Presumably, this makes it difficult for NRP to gauge compliance unless the boat is stopped and checked. Under the bill, because
everyone above deck must be wearing a PFD, NRP would be able to verify compliance from a distance. Accordingly, Legislative Services advises that DNR could enforce the bill using existing budgeted resources.

General fund expenditures could increase by an estimated $260,000 in fiscal 2007 only for DNR to advertise the new requirements and to update various publications to reflect the billís changes. Costs would be less to the extent that DNR is required to update affected publications in the absence of the bill; DNR advises that it updates its publications with every major change in recreational boating law (State and federal) and when a new Governor takes office.

State Revenues: Any person who violates any provision of Title 8 Ė Waters, of the National Resources Article is guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction is subject to a fine not exceeding $500. A person found guilty of a second or subsequent violation is subject to a fine not exceeding $1,000 or imprisonment not exceeding one year, or both.

The prepayable fine amount for failure of a child to wear an approved PFD is $85.

DNR estimates that the number of citations issued will quadruple under the bill, resulting in an increase in general fund revenues of almost $700,000 in fiscal 2007, decreasing to approximately $220,000 in fiscal 2011 as the boating public becomes more aware of the billís changes. DNRís estimate is based on recreational boating citation data from 2005 and assumes massive noncompliance.

Legislative Services disagrees. Without any actual experience under the billís changes, it is impossible to predict noncompliance. Accordingly, any increase in general fund revenues due to the issuance of additional citations cannot be reliably estimated at this time.
Additional Information

Prior Introductions: None.

Cross File: None.

Information Source(s): Department of Natural Resources, National Association of Boating Laws Administrators, U.S. Coast Guard, Department of Legislative Services
Fiscal Note History:

ncs/ljm

First Reader - February 2, 2006

Analysis by: Lesley G. Cook Direct Inquiries to:

(410) 946-5510

(301) 970-5510


Here's the email list that was recommended (comma delineated, so you should be able to copy and paste):
william.bronrott@house.state.md.us,rudolph.cane@house.state. md.us,patrick.n.hogan@house.state.md.us,jb.jennings@house.st ate.md.us,jane.lawton@house.state.md.us,james_malone@house.s tate.md.us,tony.mcconkey@house.state.md.us,catherine.pugh@ho use.state.md.us,joan.stern@house.state.md.us


WRITE NOW!!!
wkearney99
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If you're in Maryland you can use this website to find your local representatives:
http://mdelect.net/electedofficials/

I strongly encourage you to remind your actual representatives that this doesn't represent your wishes and request that they vote against this bill. It's just bad law.
wkearney99
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Posted: 04 February 2006 at 6:29pm | IP Logged
Here's the e-mail I've got prepared:

As a resident of ... I want to ask you, my elected representatives, to come out and vote against HB140.

http://mlis.state.md.us/2006rs/billfile/hb0140.htm

To refresh your memory, this bill aims to REQUIRE that ALL people onboard boats to wear life jackets. That's right, ALL people, regardless of age. Currently law in Maryland only requires this of children. I support the current law.

Apparently the research behind this bill attempts to justify itself by claiming it'll be easier to enforce this based on seeing all people on deck and not having to stop the boat and check ages of children. I won't get into the violation of rights issues associated with unreasonable stop actions on the part of police. But to see justification being based on the financial aspects is just contemptable. I'd oppose it regardless, but this just goes beyond the pale.

This bill comes across as nothing more than an attempt to extort money from those perceived as "wealthy enough" to afford being on boats. Just look at who's sponsorsed the bill. It might be fair to say their constitutents are not widely represented onboard boats.   So it's not even about trying to maintain safety for the people they represent! More like just a blatant attempt to gouge citizens from districts other than their own. This is just unacceptable.

Please, I strongly encourage you to vote against this bill.
Sarge62
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Wow. Someone has the idea to require PFDs for children ? The nerve ! That is infringing on individual rights. Force boaters to wear a PFD ? That is direct violation of personal right to drown when thrown out of a boat. To think someone would try to protect the crew and passengers of an open boat in coastal waters or inland lakes. What are they going to require next, safe boating classes, no drinking while boating ?

Oh well, I hope you took the above in the right vein.

Sarge

T3RockHall
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Posted: 04 February 2006 at 6:47pm | IP Logged

Edited by T3RockHall on 05 February 2006 at 8:25am
wkearney99
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Of course, some bills do seem to have merit.
http://mlis.state.md.us/2006rs/subjects/boatss.htm

Manslaughter:
http://mlis.state.md.us/2006rs/billfile/hb0550.htm

Warranty enforcement:
http://mlis.state.md.us/2006rs/billfile/sb0148.htm

Or worse if you expect to get PBJ in 5 years instead of 10 for DUI:
http://mlis.state.md.us/2006rs/billfile/sb0372.htm

Fascinating how well, and how quickly, the website lets you cross-reference who's been working on what.
wkearney99
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Sarge62 wrote:

Wow. Someone has the idea to require PFDs for children ?  

They already require this.

Where this about safety, and had demonstrated facts supporting it, there'd be something to consider. But it's plainly just about the revenue from possible fines.
T3RockHall
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Posted: 04 February 2006 at 8:37pm | IP Logged
Revision to email list (I left out chairperson frush):

barbara.frush@house.state.md.us,william.bronrott@house.sta te.md.us,rudolph.cane@house.state. md.us,patrick.n.hogan@ho use.state.md.us,jb.jennings@house.state.md.us,jane.lawton@ house.state.md.us,james_malone@house.state.md.us,tony.mcconk ey@house.state.md.us,catherine.pugh@house.state.md.us,joan.s tern@house.state.md.us
Edited by T3RockHall on 04 February 2006 at 8:39pm
wkearney99
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Bear in mind that it may be better to send a message to your actual reps, not the ones sponsoring this piece of trash.
waterone1
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Sarge.....please read the thing again before commenting. This is NOT about children. This is about EVERYONE on ANY SIZE BOAT having to wear a PFD at all times!!!!! This has not yet been proposed anywhere else, and if it comes to my area or state I will fight it with everything I have. Vote this thing down.....call or write every representative you can. Yes, we could all be safer by never riding in a car or ever going to work, but this is just plain nuts. Another attempt by the government to squeeze more fines out of us.
MikeeH
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So, what does a non-resident boater who pays the 5% Use tax and annual registration fees do?  Who do we write to?  Is BoatUS getting into this and what is their position?  My bet is that folks from the Type V PFD industry and those who sell them are eagerly pushing for passage.

If this passes its just one more reason to get out of boating!

Edited by MikeeH on 05 February 2006 at 7:38am
Now that I'm wise enough to know better I'm old enough not to give a damn.
T3RockHall
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MikeeH wrote:
...Is BoatUS getting into this and what is their position?...  


Indeed. An EXCELLENT question.  What IS Boat/US going to do about this???
Jim Ellis
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BoatUS is working on this bill and will be at the hearing on the 8th and will oppose this bill. We are working to find the reason behind it being presented, our first discussion with the staff that sponsored seem to indicate it was in response to the water taxi accident. But it exempts out commercial????? As soon as we have a good read and can target its true intended purpose we will be sending an email alert, likely Monday. Odd it comes from the Baltimore City group, more to come.....
Digitalsilver
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Ah, nuthin' like the age-old easy way of doing things - Management by Shotgun Effect - wanna nail the "bad" guy, shoot 'em all and let God sort it out.
wkearney99
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Well, call me skeptical but it's either an attempt at grabbing revenue from the "rich folks" (ie, nobody in those Baltimore districts) or it's a knee-jerk reaction to that water taxi incident.

Life is full of risks. The government can't prevent all of them. And it most certainly SHOULD NOT be creating legislation that attempt to extort revenue out based on them! I find the whole notion of making it 'easier' on the enforcement folks to decide who to rob just utterly contemptable. That it would be easier to see that everyone on deck had jackets still doesn't address the underlying problem that stopping boaters without just cause is little more than a thinly disguised way to rob them through excessive fines.
T3RockHall
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from another board, this email was received:

"The bill will be heard before the Environmental Matters Committee of which I am a member on February 8 starting at 1:00 p.m. Please do not hesitate to attend and testify. Should you decide to testify, call the committee - 410-841-3990 - for instructions.

Again, thanks for your input.
Sincerely,
Virginia P. Clagett"

Anybody going? Boat/US??
Edited by T3RockHall on 06 February 2006 at 12:55pm
MzDownunder
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RockHall, see Jim Ellis's post above, he said Boats US will be attending.

T3RockHall
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Missed that. Thanks.
Takara
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No doubt California will follow suit. I am very surprised that California wasn't the first to propose this legistration here. If that was the case, there goes the cruise line industry, making everyone on a curise ship wear a PFD for their entire curise.

Do you folks in the Chesapeake have commercial cruise ships?
Edited by Takara on 06 February 2006 at 3:39pm
Regards,
Brian D
Takara
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Takara wrote:

Do you folks in the Chesapeake have commercial cruise ships?  

We have a few small dinner cruise, reggae cruise, cruises to no-where etc., as well as water taxi in and around the Inner Harbour.  Also, some international cruises lines come into Baltimore, or didÖÖÖÖ..

 

 

T3RockHall
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The proposed MD law doesn't apply to passengers or crew aboard  commercial vessels.

When California's time comes, I'm sure they won't omit that little detail, plus make sure it also equally, without regard to sex, age or physical ablity, to swimmers, snorkelers, scuba divers people on flotation mattresses in private pools and walk-on-the-water mystics as well. Maybe all mammals -- who knows -- including whales...
mfd2575
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I think I already know the answer, but what about folks who come into Maryland waters on their boat from another state. And what about bareboat (or crewed) charters? I would think this law would seriously damage, if not kill, the charter boat business in Maryland. Who would want to charter a boat in Maryland when they could go to any other state and charter without having to comply with this money grab (uh, I mean law). Then again would charter boats be considered commercial vessels and thus be exempt? And, if that is true, then how would the law enforcement folks know that without stopping the boat. I'm sure that would be a lot of fun for the charter customer.......to be inspected because they're not wearing life jackets, maybe several times in a week charter!! 
T3RockHall
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It doesn't apply to charters, commercial vessels or commercial fishermen/crabbers.

By providing no exempton, it also applies to people passing through, although there might be some federal issue (interstate trade) there to be tested in court in the future. THIS law would apparently permit you to take the PFD off when you are 3 miles out, in federal waters. Isn't THAT brilliant!

I seriously doubt that this thing will pass; we'll have a better idea on the 8th, perhaps. For the nonce, we have a hot topic to discuss on our otherwise normally-dull board.

New Jersey (I think) requires all operators of pleasure boats to have in their possession proof of having passed an approved safe boating classroom (not online) course. I just sent a note to my old Power Squadron for wallet cards (we passed in 1971, for heavens' sake), because I think most states will follow this lead.


Edited by T3RockHall on 06 February 2006 at 4:43pm
Elaine D
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To clarify for the earlier posting, BoatU.S. is scheduled to testify at the hearing Wednesday. We're working on the testimony as we speak. We also understand that there will not be a vote on Wednesday, but the committee could amend the bill and/or vote on it at a later date.
Since the bill, as introduced right now, may change in the coming days, we may wait to send out an alert via e-mail to all our Maryland members to make sure we're giving everyone the most accurate and current version of the bill. Of course anyone who wishes to contact their own MD delegate or members of the committee to comment on a mandatory adult-wear law is certainly encouraged to do so.
Edited by Elaine D on 06 February 2006 at 4:54pm
Elaine Dickinson
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mfd2575
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Soooo - Let's say I hit the lotto and finally buy that retirement trawler and I'm doing the Great Circle. Of course I want to cruise the Chesapeake, and go to Baltimore. But let's say I am unaware of this law, so I'm not wearing my PFD when I enter Maryland's waters. So law enforcement pulls me over and writes me a ticket for $500!?!?!?!?!? And then the state of Maryland thinks I'm going to stick around and spend some tourist cash in their state?!?!?!?! Did your legislators have an outing and get ahold of some bad crabs?!?!?! Or what?
T3RockHall
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You think lawmakers have to be... SMART? What are YOU smokin'? Yeah. That's illegal too...
lanbuilder
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I wonder if a wheelhouse or flybridge with all around screens will count as an enclosed cabin?  I would think that provided you have a roof and a means of total enclosure that you should be OK even with the "windows" all open, otherwise you will have to wear a lifejacket when below if the windows are open.

If this passes it will certainly hasten my move to Virgina waters.

They expect the small business impact to be minimal.  Every boat related business in MD will be impacted by the lost business.  I would expect that this might kill off the yacht and fishing charters as well.

1968 Chris Craft Commander 47
Leviathan1
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 This is the summary of the bill.

http://mlis.state.md.us/2006rs/fnotes/bil_0000/hb0140.pdf.

$260,000 in tax dollars to be spent for the first year in order to advertise the law and then collect $700,000 in fines.  40 more DNR patrol persons needed to enforce a law that doesn't need to be on the books.  Something doesn't seem right.  Fatalities have been going down even though the number of registered boats is increasing.  And if the sponsors figure this to be a minimal impact on the business community, they need to review boards such as this.

This bill is based on a kneejerk reaction to the Inner Harbor Water Taxi incident but upon reviewing the bill, those operators are exempt from the bill.   But it will generate money to the general funds from all of the fines we will be paying

Joe & Debby, Edgewood, MD
"Almost Home"
06 Regal 3560



Takara
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Elaine D wrote:
To clarify for the earlier posting, BoatU.S. is scheduled to testify at the hearing Wednesday. We're working on the testimony as we speak. We also understand that there will not be a vote on Wednesday, but the committee could amend the bill and/or vote on it at a later date.
Since the bill, as introduced right now, may change in the coming days, we may wait to send out an alert via e-mail to all our Maryland members to make sure we're giving everyone the most accurate and current version of the bill. Of course anyone who wishes to contact their own MD delegate or members of the committee to comment on a mandatory adult-wear law is certainly encouraged to do so.  


Please understand that even though a lot of us do not live in Maryland, the impact of this hearing/vote effects all of us. Please do not discount that we are also very interested and wish to be kept informed as well.
Regards,
Brian D
Takara
T3RockHall
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Even though I live in NJ, my vacation home and boat are in Maryland. I'll echo Takara's comment. Please let us know what's going on HERE.
wkearney99
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If you keep your boat in Maryland then contact the representative in that area. Use this site to find them:
http://mdelect.net/electedofficials/

While you might not be a resident, you certainly contribute to the local economy. That you'd depart and/or otherwise reduce your participation would no doubt be something any decent politician should take into consideration. As in, the bill they voted on killed their local economy and got them run out of office.
DavidK
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lanbuilder wrote:

If this passes it will certainly hasten my move to Virgina waters.

 

 

DON'T JUMP ON THAT BANDWAGON.  I'm in just as bad shape.  I am in Virginia and boat on the Potomac.  Well, the Potomac belongs to the state of Maryland.  This impacts a lot of Virginia boaters as well.

 

mfd2575
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Ha, Ha, Ha - "decent politician".........now there's an oxymoron if I ever saw one! Wkearney99, thanks for the chuckle to start my day off!
Kinderbaso
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David K is right.  South of the Wilson Bridge, Maryland controls the Potomac up to the Virginia shoreline.  Those runs down to Tim's Rivershore would be a pain in the you know what.
Elaine D
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Good news! We now understand from Del. Pugh' office that the bill will be significantly changed to exempt private boats and those who work on the water, and add in commercial passenger vessels. The amendments may not be ready to see by today or tomorrow, however, BoatU.S. will still testify on our opposition to mandatory wear laws for adults.
Great comments from everyone and I appreciate Brian D's suggestion about out-of-state boaters who enjoy the Chesapeake Bay. The e-mail blast to MD members would be only because these folks have elected delegates and senators in the MD State House who will vote on this and boaters from other states do not. Those in elected office are always going to be more responsive to constituents.
There was some question of the status of charterboats and we'll look into this as well. Right now we have no further definitions from the delegate's staff. The bill is obviously in flux.
Elaine Dickinson
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Big Bliss
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..."Apparently the research behind this bill attempts to justify itself by claiming it'll be easier to enforce this based on seeing all people on deck and not having to stop the boat and check ages of children. ":....

hmmmm I started to respond to this several times and just deleted eveything again and again, just outraged. How stupid is the legislature???? Like we all would wear bright orange, huge foam life vests to make it easy for law enforment to check without stopping the boat????

Human nature tells me that, if enforeced, everybody would do the bear minimum to comply with the law, and I am not even talking about Mustang self inflatable lifevests that nobody can see from another boat, not when it is around my hip sitting at the helm, I am talking about the loosest just barely complying piece of thread that still falls under the guidelines to not get ticketed.  As a local you will find a way to comply without complying which means the DNR is prying on the tourists who will go home telling about the outrage that the piflering in the state of MD is, sure to come back year after year.

Don't even know if my answer makes sense anymore but I am too tired to delete and respond again.

Write your representatives.

Dominic and Jacky
08 Jeanneau Prestige 46

T3RockHall
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From what I read, the DNR was not in favor of the original bill at all, and tried to show how expensive it would be to attempt enforcement at all. This was the result of a bright idea of some Baltimore  legistators who have little or no knowledge of boating.

I can see it now -- the "revised" law would require cruise ship passengers, ferry passengers, bareboat sailboat charters and even striped bass charter boat fisherment to wear PFDs.

Funny, but I don't think this pig has wings....
wkearney99
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Posted: 07 February 2006 at 12:27pm | IP Logged
Elaine D wrote:
Good news! We now understand from Del. Pugh' office that the bill will be significantly changed to exempt private boats and those who work on the water, and add in commercial passenger vessels.  


So then what's the intent? To require idiots^h^h^h^hpassengers on water taxis and other non-commercial fishing boats to wear jackets? I can see that going over like a lead balloon for the tremendous amount of expense that's going to incur. Retrofitting vessels, training personnel and dealing with lawsuits from injuries incurred during the process of handing them out, wearing and collecting.   Ugh. As opposed to the statistically minute possiblities of an actual maritime incident that'd even require them.

What about cruise ships? They're commercial passenger vessels, aren't they?

I'm all for the idea of readily-accessible PFDs on all vessels. We already have that law. But to start requiring they be worn at all times is just ridiculous. And didn't most of the folks that drowned on that water taxi end up that way because of being trapped inside? A PFD won't do squat if the boat's so poorly designed as to not allow safe egress.

No, this is just bad legislation from the git-go and no amount of fiddling with it is going to make sense. Just say NO to this incredibly BAD IDEA.
--Bill Kearney, 2005 Four Winns 348 Vista
MzDownunder
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Posted: 07 February 2006 at 2:09pm | IP Logged

wkearney99 wrote:
I'm all for the idea of readily-accessible PFDs on all vessels. We already have that law. But to start requiring they be worn at all times is just ridiculous. And didn't most of the folks that drowned on that water taxi end up that way because of being trapped inside? A PFD won't do squat if the boat's so poorly designed as to not allow safe egress.

BAD IDEA.  

Actually now that I think about it, it's even more stupid if the orginal intent was because of the taxi accident.  Since you are correct and they were trapped inside, and this bill didn't require PFD on passengers inside.  Dam, and people get paid to think this s*it up

 

wkearney99
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Posted: 07 February 2006 at 2:35pm | IP Logged
Jim Ellis wrote:
BoatUS is working on this bill and will be at the hearing on the 8th and will oppose this bill.  


When/where is this being held? I'd certainly like to attend.

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