Originally posted by Thomas O'Keefe on American Whitewater.
Legislation has been introduced in the Washington State legislature that would require operators of all boats and vessels that are human-propelled (e.g. kayaks, canoes, rafts, stand up paddle boards) to possess a boater education card providing evidence of completing a boating safety education program.
House Bill 1018 has been introduced in the House Community & Economic Development Committee and is sponsored by Representatives Lovick, Ryu, Ortiz-Self, Goodman, and Orwall. It is scheduled for a hearing on Wednesday January 20th at 10am.
Senate Bill 5176 has been introduced in the Senate Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources & Parks Committee and is sponsored by Senator Van De Wege.
The two bills are very similar and would modify existing statute requiring a boater education card for those operating a motorized boat and establish a new requirement for paddlers to have such a card.
Paddlers would be required to take an accredited course, a mandatory course of instruction on boating safety education specific to paddling that has been approved by Washington State Parks. A boating safety education course substantially equivalent to the standards adopted by State Parks would also be eligible for a boater education card upon application and payment of the fee.
The proposed legislation stipulates that "no person shall operate or permit the operation of human-powered boats and vessels unless the person has in his or her possession a boater education card." Any person who is not a resident of Washington state, and who holds a current out-of-state or out-of-country certificate or card that is equivalent to the rules adopted by the commission, would also suffice. A boater would be required to carry the boater education card while operating a vessel and would be required to present the boater education card, to a law enforcement officer upon request. We encourage paddlers to read the legislative text at the links above.
American Whitewater intends to testify at the hearing and express concerns with the legislation and lack of consultation with the paddling community. We are interested in the thoughts of our membership and will craft our testimony based on input we receive.
We encourage all paddlers who have input on the legislation to consider testifying; with the state legislature closed to the public, residents of the state have the option of submitting written testimony or testifying remotely by video from their home.
How To Testify
Sign up for testimony in the House on Wednesday January 20th, 10am is now open.
Review the How To Testify Page: https://leg.wa.gov/legislature/Pages/Testify.aspx
Follow the Committee Sign in Link: https://app.leg.wa.gov/csiremote/
Select House, Community and Economic Development Committee, Meeting 1/20/2021, 10am; then select Agenda Item: HB 1018 Boater Education
You then have three options: 1) submit written testimony, 2) testify live during the hearing (a unique link will be emailed to you allowing you to participate by video conference), or 3) register a position for the bill for the hearing record.
We will follow the bill status and post hearing information for the Senate Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources & Parks when it becomes available.
Make a Comment to Your Representatives
In addition to weighing in at the hearing, we also encourage our members to weigh in directly with their representative.
To send a note to your representatives go to the direct page for the bill:
On the right side of the page you will see a link to "Comment on this bill;" you can also select "Get Email Notifications" to stay updated on bill progress. After you select the comment link you enter your address to verify your District, select the legislators you want to send a note to, and then select your position and write a comment.
We will update this post as additional information becomes available.
Thank you American Whitewater for bringing this to our attention.