Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Governor's Veto Keeps Boat Railing Laws In Place

On July 14th, Missouri Governor Eric Greitens vetoed Senate Bill 65 which would have exempted certain boats from railing requirements for passengers riding on specific areas when underway(moving), namely gunwales (the top edge of the sides of a boat), bow tops, sundecks and seats. The law would have exempted jet driven and older boats.

The Governor's veto means the current law, stated below, remains.

"306.126.  Motorboats, regulations as to passenger seating while under way — person in water, flag required, when — slow speed required, when — penalty. — 1.  The operator of a motorboat shall not allow any person to ride or sit on the gunwales, decking over the bow, railing, top of seat back or decking over the back of the motorboat while under way, unless such person is inboard of adequate guards or railing provided on the motorboat to prevent a passenger from being lost overboard.  As used in this section, the term "adequate guards railing" means guards or railings having a height parameter of at least six inches but not more than eighteen inches.  Nothing in this section shall be construed to mean that passengers or other persons aboard a motorboat cannot occupy the decking over the bow of the boat to moor it to a mooring buoy or to cast off from such a buoy, or for any other necessary purpose.  The provisions of this section shall not apply to vessels propelled by sail."

This will probably not come as welcome news to those who like idling around party cove, but this is after all about safety.  So what would SB65 have changed? The statute would have been replaced with the exact same language except for the last line which would have added some exceptions beyond sailboats.

"The provisions of this section shall not apply to vessels propelled by sail, outboard jet motors, or vessels not originally manufactured with adequate guards or railing."

In his veto letter the Governor cited "unintended consequences" of the change in the language since the statute would have included all Missouri state waterways and his concern was specifically how it would have affected boating on the Lake of the Ozarks. The bill was put forth by Missouri State Senator Dave Schatz from the 26th District which covers an area that includes the Meramec River. The Senator is also from Sullivan Missouri which is one of the last major towns people pass through on their way to the Current River.  River tourism is a good part of that areas income revenue. It's a safe assumption that what the Senator was trying to achieve was a change in the law to allow river runners more latitude regarding where people could sit while in smaller, slower, jet driven river boats. You won't see many river running jet boats with railing on them and people love riding on the bow down there (me too!). Whether another attempt is made to change the law with more specific language is unknown.