Assembly Bill 248 requires mandatory boater safety education for anyone born after Jan. 1, 1989. The bill had passed 91-3 in the Assembly in December, and 31-2 in the Senate in January.
State Rep. J.A. Hines, R-Oxford, authored the bill after the 2003 death of Brian Heiser. Heiser was on an inner tube on Lake Delton when he was struck and killed by a personal watercraft operated by a man who had no previous boating experience. Heiser would have been 34 years old this month.
"Lack of knowledge is often the cause of these senseless tragedies and this legislation will require the education necessary to cut down on these accidents," Hines said.
He praised Heiser's family for their persistence in lobbying for the boater education bill. He also praised the efforts of the Department of Natural Resources, the National Transportation Safety Board, and other boating groups.
"This wasn't just a one-sided effort," said Hines. "We had the support of law enforcement, manufacturers, and boating groups from around the state wanting to see this bill become reality."