CONCORD, N.H. - The New Hampshire Senate killed a bill yesterday that would have set speed limits on all of the state's lakes and rivers, the New Hampshire Union Leader reported in a story on its Web site today.
The Senate voted 15-9 to defeat HB 162, which would have imposed speed limits of 45 mph during the day and 25 mph at night, the newspaper reported.
The bill was originally a proposal to limit speed on Lake Winnipesaukee, but after studying the issue through last summer and fall, a House committee expanded the limits to all bodies of water, including tidal waters. The House passed the bill 193-139 last month.
Opponents of the bill said the state does not enforce current laws that require boats to travel at reasonable limits, and doubted whether enforcement would improve if the bill passed. They argued that congestion is more of a problem than speed.
Those who wanted the limits said boat makers are marketing boats in the Lakes Region that can reach up to 90 mph. They said the public is becoming increasing afraid to take to the lakes on weekends, when traffic is highest. A poll published by the New Hampshire Lakes Association last month found that 84 percent of those surveyed thought speed limits would make state waters safer, and 63 percent favored the 45/25 mph speed limits, according to the story.
Dick Smith of Hancock, N.H., with the New Hampshire B.A.S.S. Federation, which worked against the bill, said the limits would discourage visitors who own high performance boats from coming to the state. That would hurt businesses around the lakes, he said.
“It would be crazy to invest 40,000 or $50,000 in a boat and not be able to use it,” Smith told the Union Leader.
Senate Majority Leader Robert Clegg said after the vote, “I would classify this as 'feel good' legislation that had no chance of ever being enforced nor adhered to.”
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