Minnesota state legislators last week introduced companion boater education legislation (SF3392, HF3787) to expand existing youth operator requirements to eventually phase in all boaters. Introduced by Senator Carrie Ruud (R) and Representative Erin Koegel, the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) supports these companion bills in its larger effort to establish and increase boater education across the country.
The NMMA and Marine Retailers Association of the Americas (MRAA) has been working alongside key coalition stakeholders in Minnesota, including Minnesota Lakes and Rivers Advocates, Minnesota Coalition of Lakes (MN COLA), Tonka Bay Marina and law enforcement to encourage passage of this legislation. The coalition has encouraged policymakers to establish a boater education program that has a nationally recognized course with reciprocity for users and opportunity to deliver key messages to those on the water. The call to establish a boater education program extending beyond the youth requirement have been welcomed.
Last week, the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Policy and Legacy Finance Committee held a hearing on the bill. Testifying in support of the bill was Jill Sims of NMMA, Jeremy Wiczek of Nisswa Marine and Gabe Jabbour of Tonka Bay Marina, each of whom spoke on behalf of the boating industry. The bill passed out of committee unanimously and now moves to the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Finance committee for a hearing later this month.
Scheduled for Tuesday, March 8, the House Environment and Natural Resources Finance and Policy will convene for a hearing on HF3787. The boating industry and key stakeholders plan to testify in support of the bill and will continue to advocate for its passage.