Today, committees in the House and Senate are scheduled to consider bills that would raise the state license fees for boats. Senator David Johnson, a republican from Ocheydan, says state license fees for boats haven’t been raised since 1984, and the needs for protecting the state’s waterways have increased in the 21 years. Johnson represents the Iowa Great Lakes area, and he says the state needs more resources to root out “invasive” plants and animals. In addition, Johnson says the fees would help put more officers on lake patrol. There were three deaths on the Iowa Great Lakes last year. “There are thousands of boats up on the Iowa Great Lakes and it just increases the potential for an accident,” Johnson says. Representative Mike May, a republican from Spirit Lake who runs a resort on East Lake Okoboji, is concerned about water safety. He says this past Labor Day, there was just one patrol boat on the Lake. “We were feeling very uncomfortable. We were having trouble keeping the patrol boats on the lake because they were breaking down…and the D-N-R apparently didn’t have the funs to keep them going,” May says. Twenty years ago, there were 70-thousand boats in Iowa. Now, there are 240-thousand. May says much of the growth in Iowa is occurring around the water, and he “shudders” to think what would happen if Iowa’s waterways were ruined by an invasion of plants or animals, like the flying carp. “Some of those get to be 30 or 40 pounds. Can you imagine one of those jumping up six feet when you’re skiing and smacking you in the face?” Mays says. “It could literally kill someone or certainly injure them.” The current licensing fee for jet skis is eight dollars. May’s bill would raise that fee to 45 dollars.
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