A boat ban that passed the Alabama State Senate Judiciary Committee in a closed session last week is causing alarm throughout the boating community.
Senate Bill 487 would ban houseboats, boats more than 30 feet, 6 inches, and boats with engines over 500 hp in nine Alabama reservoirs. Industry officials complain that the bill was passed without any public hearings.
"Senators are showing blatant disregard for the public, for whom these lakes were created, by moving forward with this legislation behind closed doors," said Monita Fontaine, vice president of government affairs for the National Marine Manufacturers Association, in a statement.
The bill is backed by homeowners associations serving those who live on the shores of these nine reservoirs. Under the bill's provisions, new access to the lakes would be blocked, marinas and other businesses that rent houseboats and fishing boats would face financial hardship, and the families that vacation on houseboats on these lakes would be turned away, Fontaine argues.
"Alabama has always been a leader in boating safety," she said. "Restricting boating access in many of the most popular lakes will create dangerous overcrowding in the few remaining lakes where all boats are welcome."
NMMA sent an alert to its Alabama members asking them to contact their state senators.