WASHINGTON – A boat ban that passed the Alabama State Senate Judiciary Committee in a closed session Wednesday is causing alarm throughout the boating community, the National Marine Manufacturers Association reported in a statement yesterday.
Senate Bill 487 would ban houseboats, boats more than 30'6” and boats with engines in excess of 500 horsepower in nine Alabama reservoirs, each a major regional vacation destination, according to NMMA.
“Where are the public hearings to debate the frightening effects this bill would have?,” asked Monita Fontaine, NMMA vice president of government affairs. “Senators are showing blatant disregard for the public, for whom these lakes were created, by moving forward with this legislation behind closed doors. SB 487 would deny families opportunities to enjoy their public waterways, and the public deserves to know the restrictions their elected representatives are proposing to put on their recreational opportunities. This is not good government.”
NMMA stated that the bill discriminates against the thousands of taxpayers - supporting hundreds of small marine businesses - whose boats would be banned from the Alabama lakes, and suggested that the loss in tourism dollars would be tremendous.
The bill is backed by homeowners associations serving those who live on the shores of these nine reservoirs, calling into question the true motivation behind the bill, NMMA added. Under the bill's provisions, new access to the lakes would be blocked, marinas and other businesses that rent houseboats and fishing boats would face financial hardship, and the families that vacation on houseboats on these beautiful lakes would be turned away, the association reported.
Fontaine also expressed concern that restricting boat access on the nine popular lakes would create dangerous overcrowding on other unrestricted lakes.
“I don't understand this sudden movement against the culture of family boating in the state,” she stated. “Senators are telling families that they're only welcome on these bodies of water if their boating choices fit into this very specific niche. There has never been anything like this anywhere in the country.”
NMMA has sent an alert to its Alabama members asking them to contact their state Senators. It said it would make more information on the issue available at www.nmma.org/government.
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