I'm so happy to share that we have reached our fundraising goal for our 2021 Advocacy efforts! A huge thank you to those who contributed! As of this writing, we have raised $22,620, which is about $2,000 over our goal.
As we've shared, the primary budgeted expense is the contract for our lobbyist in Florida. Any overage will be used on other issues as needed or retained as a head start for our 2022 efforts. On that note, we're leaving the contribution portal open in case anyone planned to contribute but has not yet done so. You can still contribute here.
Following are updates on our efforts in a few states. Most of our advocacy work is handled by AGLCA staff, with grassroot efforts from members when needed. But in Florida in particular, it takes professional representation to make a difference.
Here are the issues we are currently tracking/working on:
The Florida legislative session starts this week and so far, bills filed that concern us include an attempt to give marinas located within deep-water seaports the ability to require owners to remove their boats in the event of a named storm evacuation. The bill also gives the marinas the ability to remove the boats on the owners’ behalf if the owner doesn’t do so themselves, and charge fees plus penalties in that circumstance. Currently, there are few marinas located within the boundaries of deep-water seaports so the impact of the bill today would be minimal. Further, we agree that all boats in the hurricane zone need a robust plan to protect life and property in the event of a storm. We are still working on this bill behind the scenes via a dialogue with its supporters to clarify the intent, and with other groups both in favor and opposed to the bill. Ultimately, we’d like to see a revision that clarifies the bill’s intents and the locations it would affect. We are, not at this point, in favor nor opposed to this bill as like so many pieces of legislation, this bill has its merits and its detriments. The House and Senate versions of the bill are available for review.
A proposed spaceport with monthly rocket launches is being debated in Georgia. If the spaceport is approved and built, the AICW would be closed for 3.5 hours for a typical launch and 12 hours for an atypical launch near Cumberland Island each time a launch is scheduled. The boating community in Georgia fears that frequent launches could lead to lengthy waterway closures, especially when scheduled launches are delayed for weather, hindering the ability of cruisers to move through the area. The Georgia Coastal Management Program (GCMP) is reviewing the information provided to ensure the proposed activities authorized by the FAA for Spaceport Camden are consistent with Georgia’s enforceable environmental policies. Comments specific to GCMP’s enforceable policies regarding this project should be submitted in writing to Diana Taylor, Department of Natural Resources, One Conservation Way, Brunswick, Georgia 31520 or emailed to CRD.Comments@dnr.ga.gov and must be received by the close of business March 8, 2021. AGLCA is working on participating with other concerned groups to submit comments. More details are available here.
We are following a bill In Missouri that would ban anchoring within 100’ of a dock. This is a reasonable distance (most Loopers wouldn’t want to anchor that close to a dock), and we will not oppose this bill as it stands today. However, we are monitoring the bill’s progress to insure that the distance isn’t changed to something unreasonable during the legislative process.
New York ~
A bill has been filed as part of a 30-day budget process in New York that will move responsibility for oversight of the New York State Canals to a Governor-appointed Board of Trustees. We believe this may be a first step in ending end-to-end navigation, which clearly presents a problem for ALL Loopers.
We believe this bill must be struck from this year’s budget bill so that all canal stakeholders can have a conversation about the proposal, and it can be discussed in legislative budget hearings. BoatUS is preparing their advocacy system to make this easy for you and to enable those who are not residents of New York to also have their voices heard. Please see our previous blog post for details about this bill as well as contact information for New York State assembly members.
South Carolina ~
A bill is being considered at the South Carolina State House which would put a time limit on anchoring in localities who choose to implement such limits. Although the bill is similar in some ways to the bill we supported in Georgia that put time limits on anchoring, there are a few key details that make South Carolina’s bill unfriendly to cruisers. The South Carolina House bill can be reviewed here and the Senate bill can be reviewed here.
South Carolina’s law gives local governments the power to set anchoring limits of 14 consecutive days in their jurisdictions, after which a permit would be required, but does not set state-wide anchoring time limits as Georgia’s law did. That means a patchwork of regulations could emerge, leaving cruisers unsure which localities have anchoring restrictions. Conversely, Georgia’s law is a state-wide regulation that requires you to obtain a permit if you want to anchor for more than 14 cumulative days in one place. Without a permit, Georgia requires you to move at least a mile after those 14 days are exhausted. In South Carolina, instead of moving a mile, you could have to move out of a jurisdiction which can be a large distance in places like Charleston County where the AICW covers about 75 miles.
As proof of how these anchoring restrictions can quickly become burdensome on cruisers, Folly Beach in South Carolina has passed an ordinance that requires a permit to anchor for even one night and bans anchoring within one mile of a boat ramp. Essentially, that’s taking a two-mile swath of the waterway at each and every boat ramp and closing it to anchoring!
This appears to be another misguided attempt to clear the waterways of abandoned and derelict vessels, as well as boats that are stored long-term on the water. We are working this issue with our partner associations and are hoping to defeat the bill via lobbying efforts. Please be on the lookout for a potential call-to-action for members to contact legislators in South Carolina.
I have joined Virginia’s Abandoned and Derelict Vessel Work Group and am participating in those meetings as the group assesses the issue and tries to find solutions for mapping the location of ADVs, securing the authority and funding to remove them, and making the public aware of the issue.
Our recent member survey showed us that you value our Advocacy efforts on your behalf. But, because we know not all members are on the same side of all issues, we have made the conscious decision not to raise membership dues to cover these issues. We are reliant on contributions from members to our Advocacy Fund. You may still contribute here.