Sen. Schumer reintroduces capacity limits legislation for recreational vessels

WASHINGTON (LOG NEWS SERVICE) — New York Sen. Charles Schumer has reintroduced legislation that would require posting of maximum passenger capacity limits on recreational vessels.

Schumer introduced the new version of his bill, the Boating Capacity Standards Act of 2013 (S 2774) on Aug. 1.  S 2774 would require the Commandant of the Coast Guard to:

  • establish standards for determining the maximum passenger capacity for recreational vessels,
  • require each manufacturer of a passenger vessel to prominently post such maximum passenger capacity on the vessel in a legible manner located so as to be clearly visible to a passenger boarding the vessel,
  • and require each operator of a passenger vessel to ensure that the notice of passenger capacity along with a notice of the need to balance the weight carried by the  vessel to avoid capsizing is posted and legible to passengers (which includes any individual aboard a vessel).

These requirements would apply to any recreational vessel manufactured 180 days after the date of the enactment of S2774.

Schumer’s bill was referred to the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation committee on Aug. 1.

Schumer’s original bill, S3537, the Boating Capacity Standards Act of 2012, which he introduced in 2012 died in committee.

A similar measure to Schumer’s Senate bill was introduced by Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., in the House of Representatives on May 9.

Israel’s bill, the Boating Occupancy & Teaching Safety Act (H.R. 4642) would also require the Coast Guard to establish passenger capacity standards for recreational vessels.

In addition Israel’s bill contains a provision that would amend Section 13103 of title 46, United States Code to authorize a state carrying out a state recreational boating safety program to enter into contract with a local government or private entity to provide boating safety education classes.

Israel said that these grants would be awarded by the state from federal funding provided to each state for the Recreational Boating Safety program. The RBS program gets funding through the Sport Fishing and Recreational Boating Safety Trust Fund, which is funded through marine fuel taxes, as well as fees on certain pieces of fishing equipment.

Each state would be directed to spend at least 5 percent of what they receive from the federal government for the RBS program directly on grants for boating safety classes. Those who receive the grants through this program would not be able to directly profit from it, meaning the money from the grant must be put entirely towards the classes, Israel said.

Israel’s bill was referred to the committees on Agriculture and Ways and Means and the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans and Insular Affairs.

There has been no committee action on, nor has anyone cosponsored, either bill. a website that tracks bills and members of Congress gave Schumer’s bill only a 1 percent chance of being enacted by the Senate.

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