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Legislative victories good news for dealers

March 29, 2004
Filed under Features

Personal watercraft dealers have even more reasons to breathe easy heading into the spring and summer sales season, as two key legislative battles have recently gone in favor of PWC access.
New Hampshire’s proposed State Bill 477 would have singled out personal watercraft, and set a dangerous precedent by potentially granting individual municipalities the authority to ban three and four-passenger models. Critics of the bill contended that it was a “wolf in sheep’s clothing,” as it sought to include the larger PWC models in the definition of “ski craft” used in a decades-old law currently on the books. That unique definition from the previous law includes vessels that require the user to straddle the boat’s hull rather than sit within. Changing the definition would have included three and four-passenger models in laws that currently restrict the use of one and two-seater styles.
“This legislation was nothing more than an unfair attempt to ban the popular family-size, three and four-passenger personal watercraft from New Hampshire waterways,” argued Christian Gullott, Manager of State Affairs for the Personal Watercraft Industry Association. “Families ought not be banned for choosing a more affordable alternative to larger powerboats.”
According to Gullott, similar legislation has been proposed in the State Senate in previous years. “This year, however, was the first where they tried to disguise the wolf in sheep’s wool,” he continued. “We are all very fortunate that at the end of the day, science and rationale has overruled the bias of a select few.”
One of the dangers of the proposed legislation would have been the potential that individual municipalities would be granted the authority to ban three and four-passenger models. The PWIA contends that the legislation was drawn up to appear as it only targeted one specific waterway, but actually would have quietly sought authority to implement a patchwork of PWC bans throughout the state.
The town of Waterford, Maine also recently voted against a proposal that would have recommended PWC be banned on Keoka Lake. Maine does not permit localities to enact bans without the approval of the State Legislature.
“Dedicated local activists worked closely with PWIA representatives to chart a course for fair access to this public lake for both residents and visitors,” stated Gullott. “The lake is not the sole domain of lakefront property owners nor should the rules of the lake be dictated only by those who can afford a house with a view of the lake from their back yard.” psb

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