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Attn. MD Boaters!!!!!

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Old 02-09-2006, 07:01 PM
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Local Paper

Life jacket bill watered down after waves of protest
By DAVID ABRAMS, Staff Writer
A Baltimore delegate yesterday threw overboard most of her bill requiring use of life jackets on boats, after being confronted with scores of e-mails and calls from angry boaters.

About three dozen people lined up to testify against the bill in Annapolis, but most of them never got to speak because the bill was being gutted.

Democratic Del. Catherine E. Pugh initially called for passage of a new law that would require all passengers on water taxis and charter boats to wear life vests. The bill was in response to the nationally publicized accident in the Baltimore Inner Harbor two years ago, when a water taxi capsized killing four people.

But yesterday she drastically revised the measure to require only that water taxi captains instruct passengers how to wear life vests, with their use optional.

"We're not requiring they put it on," Ms. Pugh said. "We're giving them the option to wear it or not wear it."

Instead of testifying against the bill, representatives of charter boat and fishing boat companies just stood up and thanked the committee for changing the bill.

Del. Virginia Clagett, D-West River, said her office had been deluged with complaints about the bill, since Anne Arundel County boasts more than 400 miles of shoreline and thousands of boaters.

"I can't even calculate how many calls and e-mails and letters we got - and people passing me on the street," she said after the hearing.

The Capital carried a front page story about the bill on Monday.

Some people who came to testify were miffed even though the parts of the bill they opposed were removed.

They complained that state lawmakers were trying to overregulate them, that it was sufficient merely to keep life vests on board boats. There were also no copies of the amendments available to review, which irked many of the those who came to testify.

"It was difficult for me to think that anyone who knows the facts would put in this bill," said Michael Orders, marine operations manager for Pintail Yacht Charters, operating out of Annapolis and Baltimore.

Ms. Pugh said the intent of her bill was to make transport of the public by water safer, and bills are often drawn broadly before being fine-tuned.

"We wanted to let them know what the issues are," Ms. Pugh said.

She said she rode on five water taxis in the last two weeks, and none of the operators offered instructions on how to use life vests.

Federal regulations don't require instructions on water taxis. For trips of 15 minutes or less, only a placard is necessary if the captain thinks instructions are impractical.

"This is still a terrible bill," said Richard Novotny, executive director of the Maryland Saltwater Sportfishermen's Association.

Most of the people gathered for the hearing were just glad that the bill wouldn't be a problem for them anymore. Oddly enough, the lights in the committee hearing room blacked out as soon as the testimony was over.

"Uh oh, we don't have our safety lights on," quipped Paul Foer of Annapolis, a licensed boat captain for 26 years.
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Old 02-09-2006, 10:54 PM
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Default Re: Attn. MD Boaters!!!!!

I am glad to see that some of the larger groups like Boat US got involved to help us here in MD. I have been a member for years and just renewed my membership again last month. After seeing them go to bat for us, there is no doubt that I will continue to be a member for a long, long time.
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Old 02-10-2006, 11:37 AM
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Default Re: Attn. MD Boaters!!!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hot Duck
I am glad to see that some of the larger groups like Boat US got involved to help us here in MD. I have been a member for years and just renewed my membership again last month. After seeing them go to bat for us, there is no doubt that I will continue to be a member for a long, long time.
I second that
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