This is an email I received from Dick Smith yesterday
This afternoon I drove up to Concord to sit in on several legislative bills and also to testify on HB 815. Below is my report:
House Ways & Means Committee hearings:
HB 815 sponsored by Rep. Chris Christensen but is really a bill crafted by the NH Lakes Association and the Department of Environmental Services in order to try to get more money for their milfoil programs and help pay for dam maint. There would also be some money for Fish & Game and the Marine Patrol. This bill would make out-of-state motorboats pay $20 for a decal each year they use NH waters. I testified that while the 4 programs are worthy and need money, we questioned if this was the right way to raise the funds as the bill was tourist unfriendly. Tourism is very important to our NH economy. People who vacation in NH are already paying to help us with our various programs because they spend goodly sums of money on lodging, meals, snacks, drinks, gasoline, fishing licenses ($53), fishing and other sports gear, entertainment, etc.. Plus they pay a hefty 8% rooms & meals tax.
I can just imagine a vacationing family pulling a boat and going camping/fishing on one of our hundreds of lakes. If they arrive on the weekend, (1) they probably won't even know that they are supposed to buy a $20 decal before they can get the boat wet, and (2) town offices will be closed and maybe there isn't any place nearby to get the decal. We sure don't want the Marine Patrol hassling these folks . . . not good. Just the administration and enforcement of this makes it seem unworkable.
All states in the USA subscribe to and honor the Federal watercraft bow numbering system. The idea is that if you register your boat and pay your fees in NH, that you can travel to other states where your boat bow number will be honored. It is similar to registering your car and paying all the fees in NH. If you now want to drive down to Boston for a baseball game, you shouldn't get nicked $20 by MA for a decal to use their roads. We honor the MA licensed vehicles that use NH roadways.
All states have roadways and also a lakes management program (most states also have some milfoil). Each state takes care of its own roads and lakes without trying to nick out-of-staters to pay for it. Maine started this with their $20 milfoil decal. If NH followed their lead, then Vermont would charge us $20 to use their lakes, then New York would want to follow suite, etc.. If you boated all over New England your boat would be covered with decals and it would have cost you a fair amount of $.
Finally, the NH Dept. of Safety (Marine Patrol) is opposed to this bill.
Whenever the House Ways & Means Committee goes into executive session, I predict that they will Rx to ITL (kill)
HB 714 This bill was also sponsored by Rep. Christensen and calls for all watercraft rental places to be registered ($25 fee). Would help prevent these places from renting PWC etc. to people who do not have a clue about how to operate a watercraft safely and responsibly. If the renter does not have a Boating Safety Certificate, the agency must administer a test before renting. If agency helps renter cheat on the test and they are found out, their registration will be stripped and they will be out of business. I think that this bill has a good chance of passing.
House Transportation Committee (19 members) in executive session
HB 290 one of two boat speed restriction bills. This bill called for one speed limit if between 150 to 1,000 feet away from another watercraft or shore and yet another speed limit if over 1,000 feet away. The committee voted unanimously to ITL (Kill) this bill. The bill now goes to the full House which almost always follows the recommendation of the committee.
HB 847 this is the main boat speed restriction bill that is being pushed hard by the WinnFabs crowd and the NH Lakes Association. The bill would impose a 45 mph day and 25 mph night speed limit regardless of water conditions. The committee voted to Retain this bill -- which means no legislative action will take place this year, but will once again be taken up again next year at this time. By retaining the bill, this allows the Marine Patrol to conduct pilot studies in two areas of Winnipesaukee this summer. The MP will purchase a few laser radar guns and do the extensive training needed and then monitor the area between Bear Island and the mainland. The other area to be monitored will be SE of Rattlesnake Island including the area between Sleeper Island and the mainland. This will also give the MP an opportunity to see if radar is even capable of obtaining accurate speed reading under various conditions. The MP will then report back to the House Transportation Committee in the fall or early winter of this year.
Since the WinnFabs people and the NH Lakes Association are deeply disappointed that the committee voted to retain this bill, it must mean that it is a temporary and partial win for us. We can't fall asleep on this bill and when it is once again taken up next year, it will be critical that our members make their voices heard by phoning legislators and attending the main hearing . . . unless we do, our goose will be cooked.
Most of the members of the Transportation committee have never operated a power boat on Winnipesaukee. Many have never been on the lake in any capacity. Therefore, the chairman of the committee (Mr. J. Ryan) is going to arrange for committee members to get out on Winni in the MP boats so they can see firsthand what it is like this summer.
I would like to offer to the Transpiration legislators an opportunity to get out on Winni in a bass boat and also do a little fun fishing if they would like. All I need is about 9 boat captains (2 legislators per boat). Maybe we could do a mini 4 hour fun bass tournament with a cookout afterwards. Who will volunteer?
I spoke to Governor Lynch last week and asked him if he was open and receptive to participating in a mini fun bass tournament. He said "Yes".
We are also going to be talking about offering the legislators rides in a big performance boat . . . maybe do the same day that we offer the bass boat outing.
Again, this summer is going to super critical that all of us in the bass boat community operate our watercraft with the maximum of courtesy and safety . . . give everything an extra wide berth. Always be thinking about how we can help other boaters at the boat ramp and out on the water. Let's make this part of our everyday culture.
That's it for now, I'll be up at the Capital this Wed. and Thurs. for other bills.