Boat ban bill passes Alabama House

TALLADEGA, Ala. - The Alabama House of Representatives has passed a modified version of a bill that would ban houseboats and other large vessels on three of the state's lakes, according to a story on the www.dailyhome.com Web site today.

The legislation passed by the House would ban boats longer than 26 feet 11 inches, which can exceed 60 mph, and boats longer than 30 feet, 6 inches on lakes Weiss, Harris and Martin.

However, boats longer than 30 feet, six inches that are already on those lakes would be exempt from the law due to a grandfather clause in the bill. But no exemption was made for the shorter, faster boats, according to the story.

The bill passed by a vote of 63-14. It will now go to the state's Senate. With committee approval, the bill could go to the Senate floor for a vote.

Initially, nine Alabama lakes were included in the legislation and a proposed substitute bill, which surfaced two weeks ago, stretched it to 11 lakes, including Logan Martin.

Rep. Ron Johnson, R-Sylacauga, said he voted against the bill.

"Nobody called me in support of this bill. The only one to contact me in support of it was the Alabama Power Company," he told dailyhome.com.

Alabama Power, which created the lakes for hydroelectric power generation, backed the legislation, citing contamination from houseboats and the possibility of overcrowding as reasons for its support.

Georgia developers wanted big boat restrictions on Lake Harris, also known as Lake Wedowee, before they would consider bringing a multi-million dollar resort to the lake, according to the story.

Alabama Power has 10,000 acres on Lake Harris, 3,500 acres of which could be developed, and the company has been involved in talks about the land deal, company officials said.

Randolph County developer Matt Hooton owns significant acreage on the lake as well, and he said he asked that the legislation be introduced, making way for the resort development on Harris, according to the story.

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