ALERT: Houseboating Under Fire In Alabama
The breadth and impact of the boat ban which passed the Alabama State Senate Judiciary Committee in a closed session last week is causing alarm in throughout the boating community. Senate Bill 487 would ban houseboats, boats more than 30'6" and boats with engines in excess of 500 horsepower in nine Alabama reservoirs, each a major regional vacation destination.
"Where are the public hearings to debate the frightening effects this bill would have?," asked Monita Fontaine, vice president of government affairs for the National Marine Manufacturers Association. "Senators are showing blatant disregard for the public, for whom these lakes were created, by moving forward with this legislation behind closed doors. SB 487 would deny families opportunities to enjoy their public waterways, and the public deserves to know the restrictions their elected representatives are proposing to put on their recreational opportunities. This is not good government."
This bill is clearly discriminatory against those thousands of taxpayers-supporting hundreds of small business related to marine activities-whose boats would be disallowed on these Alabama lakes. Furthermore, the loss in tourism dollars from a ban on recreational vessels on these waters would be tremendous, particularly in terms of residence and large vessel charters and rentals in and around the Tallapoosa River Basin.
The bill is backed by homeowners associations serving those who live on the shores of these nine reservoirs, calling into question the true motivation behind the bill. Under the bill's provisions, new access to the lakes would be blocked, marinas and other businesses that rent houseboats and fishing boats would face financial hardship, and the families that vacation on houseboats on these beautiful lakes would be turned away.
"Alabama has always been a leader in boating safety," said Fontaine. "Restricting boating access in many of the most popular lakes will create dangerous overcrowding in the few remaining lakes where all boats are welcome. I don't understand this sudden movement against the culture of family boating in the state. Senators are telling families that they're only welcome on these bodies of water if their boating choices fit into this very specific niche. There has never been anything like this anywhere in the country."
NMMA has sent an alert to its Alabama members asking them to contact their state Senators. More information on this urgent issue will be available shortly at www.nmma.org/government.
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