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Controversial Fee for Boaters Sinks with Passage of North Carolina Budget
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RALEIGH, NC, September 23, 2015 – A controversial new “Coastal Boat Fee” that would have made Tar Heel State boaters pay the highest state-imposed charges on recreational boats in the nation has died with the passing of the state budget Monday. As part of the North Carolina budget debate, the state’s General Assembly was considering legislation that would have imposed an additional fee on all recreational boats 24 feet and longer used in coastal waters. The fee would have also applied to out-of-state vessels fishing in NC coastal waters. Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) and the North Carolina Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus rallied boaters and anglers to sink the effort.
The proposed fee, which comes after a recent 2013 increase in state boat registration fees, was intended for dredging of waterways and inlets but in final budget negotiations other sources of funding were found. “The fee placed too great a financial burden on recreational boaters, would have chased away out-of-state anglers and have had a negative impact on boater related spending,” said BoatUS Government Affairs Senior Program Manager David Kennedy. Saltwater recreational fishing accounts for some 15,000 jobs and $1.6 billion in annual sales for the state.
The national boating advocacy, services and safety organization generated almost 3,000 comments to state legislators asking them to reconsider the onerous fee that would have imposed an additional $75 each year on a 25-foot boat. The fee increased on a sliding scale up to $1300 based on boat length.
In a letter to NC Senate and House leaders, BoatUS President Margaret Podlich noted that 72% of the nation’s boat owners have annual household incomes of less than $100,000 and for many, they are highly sensitive to any cost increases of this discretionary activity. The legislation could have also unintentionally ensnared out-of-state boaters who fish as part of their normal cruising and boating activities.
“Dredging waterways and inlets is important, but maintaining them must be a shared responsibility. North Carolina legislators heard boaters loud and clear and wisely dropped the fee,” added Kennedy. “We’d like to thank State Senator Norman Sanderson who represents the state’s second Senate district for recognizing that recreational boaters shouldn’t bear the sole responsibility and leading his colleagues to the right path. Our thanks also go to the NC Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus and Grady White Boats for their support.”
About Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS):
BoatUS is the nation’s largest organization of recreational boaters with over a half million members. We are the boat owners’ voice on Capitol Hill and fight for their rights. We help ensure a roadside breakdown doesn’t end a boating or fishing trip before it begins, and on the water, we bring boaters safely back to the launch ramp or dock when their boat won’t, day or night. The BoatUS Insurance Program gives boat owners the specialized coverage and superior service they need, and we help keep boaters safe and our waters clean with assistance from the non-profit BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water. Visit BoatUS.com.