The Iowa Great Lakes community has received great water safety support from our local legislators - Senator David Johnson and Representative Jeff Smith.
However, it takes a majority of the Senate and a majority of the House to pass any legislation. We would appreciate your support to encourage other Iowa legislators to support these legislative initiatives. It does seem that other Iowa lakes do not have the same issues as the Iowa Great Lakes particularly when comes to boat density and bars on the water.
The Water Safety Council and the lake protective associations appreciate your support of water safety and water quality issues.
2013 Legislative Activity
At the beginning of this legislative session Senator David Johnson and Representative David Smith introduced two bills in the Iowa legislature of interest to the Iowa Great Lakes. The first bill extended the DNR's reporting requirement on how boat registration fees are spent for an additional ten years. The second bill strengthened Iowa's Aquatic Invasive Species laws to prevent the further spread of AIS. A key requirement is to drain all water from a boat before it is transported on the highway. Both bills passed the Iowa legislature and have been signed by Governor Branstad.
ADMINISTRATIVE RULE CHANGE DICKINSON COUNTY NEAR SHORE BOAT SPEED
In August 2010 the DNR Natural Resource Commission adopted a near shore boat speed rule for Dickinson County. The boat speed within 300-feet of shore for the rest of Iowa is 10 MPH. Due to concerns for swimmer safety, water clarity, and shoreline erosion the NRC changed the Dickinson County boat speed within 300-feet of shore to 5 MPH. The rule change was supported was by the Okoboji Protective Association, East Okoboji Lakes Improvement Corporation, Spirit Lake Protective Association, and the Dickinson County Board of Supervisors.
Funding Of Water Safety & Fighting Invasive Species
During the 2005 session the Iowa Legislature amended Iowa Code section 462A.52 to increase boat registration fees. As part of this amended law the legislature wanted to be sure that the new fees would be spent on water safety and fighting invasive species upon the inland waters of this state.
The legislature also wanted to be sure the funds that had been expended for fighting invasive species and water safety prior to July 1, 2005 were not reduced. The legislation required the Department of Natural Resources to present a report to the legislature on how the money was spent with the first report due December 31, 2007. The DNR reports are provided below along with the Water Safety Councils analysis of the first report.
DNR FY 10 Boat Fee Revenues and Expenditures Report CLICK HERE
DNR FY 09 Boat Fee Revenues and Expenditures Report CLICK HERE
DNR FY 08 Boat Fee Revenues and Expenditures Report CLICK HERE
DNR FY 07 Boat Fee Revenues and Expenditures Report CLICK HERE
Water Safety Council Analysis of the 2007 DNR Legislative Report CLICK HERE
HISTORY OF ADOPTING .08 IMPAIRED BOATER LEVEL
2011 Governor Branstad Signed The New Iowa Impaired Boater Law
Under the measure signed by Branstad, a blood-alcohol level of .08 percent
could bring a conviction, down from the 0.10 of a percent that was
previously allowed. The legislature lowered the blood-alcohol level for
motorists several years ago, and took the same step for boaters in 2011.
2009 Improved Boater Safety Blocked In The Iowa House
For the last three years the Iowa House failed to bring the impaired boater legislation to the floor for a vote. The purpose of this legislation is to change the present .10 alcohol level to .08 for impaired boaters. The .08 level is the alcohol level used for cars in most states and is the impaired boater level in forty states. All of the states surrounding Iowa - except Missouri have adopted the .08 impaired boater level.
Each year the Iowa Senate has given .08 near unanimous approval. In a January 21, 2009 Des Moines Register article the House majority leader Kevin McCarthy was quoted as stating "My prediction is we'll have a .08 law for boating passed by the end of the year,"
The tactic used by Representative Kevin McCarthy and Rick Olson was to add ridiculous amendments to the legislation, so the safe boating community would find the legislation a step backward and would not press for passage.
Bill Cuts Alcohol Limits For Boaters - DMR - January 21, 2009 CLICK HERE
2008 IMPROVED BOATER SAFETY BLOCKED IN THE IOWA HOUSE
The Water Safety Council made the decision in the fall of 2007 to ask the legislature for only one change in Iowa's boating safety laws for 2008. That was to decrease the presumptive blood alcohol level of an impaired boater from .10 to .08 - the same as for automobile drivers. 40 states have adopted .08 as the impaired alcohol level for impaired boaters. All of the sates around Iowa, except Missouri, have adopted .08 as their impaired boater standard.
In the 2007 legislative session the Senate passed SF49 unanimously. Also in 2007 the House Natural Resources Committee approved .08 by a 19 to 6 vote. In the final two weeks of the 2007 session the House passed SF49, but also attached a killer amendment (see 2007 results below)
At the beginning of the 2008 session the Water Safety Council asked the Democratic House Leadership to bring SF49 to the House floor for a vote. Extensive follow-up was made in throughout January, February, and March. In late March the Des Moines Register wrote an article, editorial, and published a cartoon on the need for Iowa to adopt the .08 impaired boater standard.
Tighter Drunk Boating Law Still on Legislature's Radar - DMR - March 23, 2008 CLICK HERE
Editorial - Take Action To Prevent Drunken Boating - DMR March 24, 2008 CLICK HERE
Cartoon - 2 Drunk 2 Drive A Car - DMR Front Page - March 25, 2008 CLICK HERE
Kevin McCarthy - House Majority Leader - did not allow SF49 to come to the House floor for a vote.
PFD's For Kids Under 13 years of Age - 2008
The Personal Flotation Devices for Kids legislation - passed the House and Senate in the spring of 2008 and was signed by the Governor. It went into effect May 10, 2008.
Results of 2007 Water Safety Legislation
Based on the August 12, 2005 tragic boat accident on West Lake Okoboji - and a general concern for water safety - the Water Safety Council has made five legislative proposals to the 2007 Iowa Legislature:
1. Decrease boat speed within 300 feet of shore from 10 to 5 MPH. HF73 - did not pass the House Natural Resources Committee by the March 9th funnel date - dead for this session.
2. Create the crime of eluding a Lake Patrol officer. SF78 that includes the crime of eluding has been signed by the Governor. It becomes effective July 1, 2007.
3. Require a boat to maintain a distance of 100 feet from another boat, unless both boats are traveling at less than 5 MPH. HF178 - did not pass the House Natural Resources Committee by the March 9th funnel date - dead for this session.
4. Decrease the presumptive level of alcohol concentration while boating from .10 to .08 the same as automobiles. On January 31st SF49 passed the Senate on a unanimous vote. On February 14th HF143 was voted out of the House Natural Resources Committee by a 19 to 6 vote. On April 18th the House passed SF-49 with an amendment that adds the boat must be planning or have a small motor. This amendment was designed to kill the bill. On April 23rd the Senate stripped the killer amendment and added the PFD for Kids amendment. The Democratic leadership of the House failed to bring SF49 to the House floor for a vote.
5. Require a person less than 13 years of age to wear a life jacket while on a boat when boat is under way. On February 28th SF203 passed the Senate on a unanimous vote. On April 4th SF209 passed the House Natural Resources Committee by a vote of 15 to 6. It appears this legislation will not be brought to the House floor for debate and a vote this year.
Results of 2006 Water Safety Legislation
Results of 2005 Water Safety Legislation
Legislation impacting water safety and quality has passed by the 2005 legislature and was signed by the Governor. A big THANK YOU to Representative Mike May and Senator David Johnson for their support.
1. A Modest Increase In Boat Registration Fees
HF828 provided a modest increase boat registration fees, enabling about $962,000 in additional statewide revenues to be directed to boating safety and fighting Invasive Species.
With the fee increase the boat registration fee for a 16 26 foot boat (the most common) would be $6 per year. Boat registration fees would be paid in three-year intervals, reducing the number of checks a boater would write. For the first time, boats 40 feet and longer in length would pay a higher fee. Iowa boat registration fees had not been increased since 1984.
2. Expanded Boat Operator Certification for operators age 12 - 17
The 2003 Iowa legislature enacted a law to requiring PWC operators age 12-17 to pass a boating safety test. As a result, the number of PWC accidents was reduced. The 2005 legislation extends the same certification standard to operators age 12 - 17 for boats with more than 10 HP, unless accompanied by a responsible person 18 years of age or older.
All of Iowa's surrounding states require the same type of water safety certification, except South Dakota. For information on how to obtain water safety certificate see BOATING INFORMATION and scroll down to the section on water safety education.
3. Personal Safety & Protection of the Shoreline (SF185 Introduced by David Johnson)
Iowa's existing speed and distance regulations require that boats not exceed 10 MPH within 300 feet of shore. The new legislation would decrease boat speed to 5 MPH. To read the full text of Senate File SF185 click on this link Senate File 185 - was not adopted in the 2005 legislative session.
4. Avoiding Boat Collisions (SF185 Introduced by David Johnson)
Iowa's existing speed and distance regulations require boats not exceed 5 MPH within 100 feet of another boat going less than 5 MPH and only 50 feet of another boat going faster than 5 MPH. The new legislation would change this complicated rule for boats not to exceed 5 MPH within 150 feet of another boat.
The justification for this reduction in boat speed is there needs to be a greater separation between speeding boats to avoid serious collisions. Just a few years ago the speed and distance between boats was less than 5 MPH within 250 feet of another boat.
To read the full text of Senate File SF185 click on this link Senate File 185 - was not adopted in the 2005 legislative session.
Iowa Great Lakes Legislators
The Iowa legislators representing the Iowa Great Lakes provide great support for water safety and water quality issues:
State Senator David Johnson of Ocheyedan -- Email email@example.com tel 515/ 281-3371
State Representative Jeff Smith of Okoboji -- Email firstname.lastname@example.org telephone 515/ 281-3221
State Representative Megan Hess of Spencer -- Email email@example.com telephone 712/ 260-6362
Additional support from other legislators across Iowa is very helpful - particularly those in leadership positions. You can find your legislator by using the Iowa legislature website www.legis.state.ia.us or by calling 515/ 281-5129.
Information about the Iowa legislation can be found at this website Iowa Legislature
If you have difficulty finding your Iowa legislator, contact the Water Safety Council at firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail at PO Box 232, Spirit Lake 51360. Please provide your name and address with zip code, so we can determine the correct Senator and Representative.
In March 2004 the WSC filed comments with the Department of Natural Resources supporting a proposed change to provide better procedures for measuring Motorboat Noise. This change was adopted by the DNR starting with the 2004 boating season.
For specific boat noise rules see Code of Iowa 462A.11 Muffling Devices and the
Iowa Administrative Code - Chapter 43, Motorboat Noise.
CODE OF IOWA 462A.11 MUFFLING DEVICES
chapter 43 - MOTORBOAT NOISE
A scale means the physical scale marked A graduated in decibels on a sound level meter which meets the requirements of the American National Standards Institute, Incorporated, publicationS1.4 1983 General Purpose Sound Level Meters.
57143.2(462A) Sound level limitation. No person shall operate or give permission for the operation of any motorboat in or upon the waters of this state under the jurisdiction of the natural resource commission, in such a manner as to exceed the following noise levels:
43.2(1) Stationary sound level test. For engines manufactured before January 1, 1993, a motorboat engine shall not exceed a noise level of 90dB(A) when subjected to a stationary sound level test as prescribed by SAE J2005. For engines manufactured on or after January 1, 1993, a motorboat engine shall not exceed a noise level of 88dB(A) when subjected to a stationary sound level test as prescribed by SAE J2005.
43.2(2) Shoreline sound level test. A motorboat engine shall not exceed a noise level of 75dB(A) when measured as specified in SAE J1970. Compliance with the requirement of this subrule is required in addition to, and shall not preclude the application of, subrule 43.2(1).
57143.3(462A) Serviceability. All muffling devices used on motorboats shall be in good working order and in constant operation to prevent excessive or unusual noise.
This rule is intended to implement Iowa Code section 462A.11.
Lake Patrol Funding History
The Water Safety Council is concerned that insufficient funds are being designated to water safety law enforcement in the Iowa Great Lakes. The DNRs Lake Patrol operation has been operating with the same number of personnel and boats for the last 25 years (until 2006) - dealing with boat traffic that increases exponentially each season. On an average summer day in 2003, for instance, 900 boats moved between the bridges separating East and West Lake Okoboji.
Under the old Iowa Conservation Commission, for instance, monies from the marine fuel tax and boat registration fees were used by the Water Safety Bureau to fund lake patrols, ensuring that boats and equipment were periodically updated. In 1981, the Water Safety Bureau was merged with the Fish and Game Law Enforcement Bureau, and lake patrol units began being funded by the Fish and Game Trust Fund, struggling ever since with budget constraints. For several weeks during August 2004 there was only one DNR provided boat available for operation due to engine failures on two other Lake Patrol boats.