Boating industry supporter Sen. Breaux to retire

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Sen. John Breaux (D-LA), the co-author of the landmark Aquatic Resources (Wallop/Breaux) Trust Fund, which channels over $500 million per year in federal fuel and fishing tackle taxes back into state boating and fishing programs, will not run for re-election when his term expires at the end of 2004. BoatU.S. reported in a statement today.

“Recreational boaters and anglers will be losing their best friend in Congress in less than a year’s time,” said BoatU.S. Government Affairs Vice President Michael Sciulla. “With Senator Breaux’s departure now a certainty, it is absolutely critical that the boating and fishing communities get behind his bill, S.1804, and push through Congress a lasting legacy that will reauthorize the Wallop/Breaux Trust Fund for another six years.”

Breaux, 59, was the youngest member of the House of Representatives when he was elected in 1972 and won election to the U.S. Senate in 1986. In addition to the Wallop/Breaux legislation, Sen. Breaux was a major force in the repeal of the infamous “luxury” tax and “user fee” taxes on boats during the 1990s.

Breaux, an avid boater, angler and BoatU.S. member, was instrumental in 1984 in convincing his Congressional colleagues that the federal taxes boaters and anglers paid on motorboat fuel should be placed in a trust fund and returned to the states for boating safety, education and law enforcement purposes, according to BoatU.S. Since that time, the number of recreational boating fatalities has been reduced from 1,241 in 1983 to a low of 681 in 2001 while the number of recreational boats on the water has increased nearly 50 percent.

With Sen. Breaux as its primary sponsor, the Wallop/Breaux Trust Fund has been reauthorized by Congress on a bipartisan basis three times over the past two decades and should have been reauthorized in 2003 as part of a comprehensive federal gas tax measure. But, differences between the White House and Congress on issues having nothing to do with boating or fishing have delayed final action until 2004, BoatU.S. reported.

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