Weekly 5: New Jersey boat dealers indicted on 34 fraud counts

The BI Weekly 5 is a collection of tips, news and data affecting the boating industry this week. Be sure to look for the BI Weekly 5 every Tuesday on BoatingIndustry.com.

1. New Jersey boat dealers indicted on 34 fraud counts

A boat dealer who allegedly faked his death and his partner are facing more counts related to transactions at their New Jersey dealership.

Andrew Biddle, who was missing for months after his July boat crash, and Tracy Blumenstein are accused by prosecutors of stealing thousands of dollars from customers of Professional Boat Sales. Allegations include passing bad checks, selling boats for customers and not sharing the proceeds and other deceptive business practices.

2. Connecticut boat safety bill advances to legislature

A bill to require boat operators be at least 16 years old and complete a safety course is closer to becoming law in Connecticut.

The proposed law has changed since its introduction, with the required age being lowered from 18 to 16 after the boating industry raised concerns.

3. Opposition to New York boat tax break growing

New York State Sen. Rich Funke is leading an effort to strip what opponents are calling a “yacht tax break” from the state’s budget.

The proposal would cap the taxable amount on boats and airplanes at $230,000. Proponents say it would help keep those purchases in the state, instead of moving them to other states.

4. 37 U.S. Senators urge RFS support

A bipartisan group of 37 senators is asking the EPA to reverse its 2014 plans and continue increasing biofuel levels, as originally called for in the Renewable Fuel Standard.

A group of senators from Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois and South Dakota – where ethanol is particularly important to local farmers – took the lead on the effort, but the full list of signers is at the link above.

5. Missouri fuel tax seems unlikely to pass

A two-cent-per-gallon increase in Missouri’s fuel tax appears to be dead.

State officials say the tax is needed to maintain the state’s deteriorating roads and bridges. Current law exempts marinas from the fuel tax, but boaters must apply for a refund after the fact.

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