The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) has released a list of the legislative initiatives for the 2013 session. This year’s agenda is less ambitious than last year’s, and three of the four initiatives involve boating laws. The legislature may act on these proposals in whatever manner they choose, so this list and specifics of each proposal are subject to change during the legislative process.
The highlight for this year is a follow-up to the constitutional amendment passed by voters in the November 2012 election that allows legislators to change the rate of taxation for vessels (boats and other watercraft). KDWPT will propose a bill that will gradually exempt vessels from taxation over a three-year period, beginning on January 1, 2014. The proposal calls for a tax rate based on 20 percent of a vessel’s appraised value in 2014, 10 percent in 2015 and exempt for 2016 and thereafter. Currently, vessels are taxed based on 30 percent of appraised value.
Boating Under the Influence Time Period
Boating under the influence of alcohol (BUI) is an important safety issue. KDWPT will propose that the time period in which BUI testing can be done be changed to match that allowed for those for operating a motor vehicle. Current Kansas law makes it unlawful to operate any vessel with a blood or breath alcohol concentration of .08 at the time of or within two hours after operation. KDWPT will propose to change the time period during which testing can occur to three hours, the same as state law for motor vehicles on the roadways. The provision would become effective January 1, 2014.
Boater Education Requirements
Boater education is also important for safety on the water. Currently, any person who is at least 12 years old and born on or after January 1, 1989 must have boater education to operate a vessel without supervision. However, the current law exempts anyone 21 or older from the education requirement. The department will propose that legislators strike the over-21 exemption so that anyone 12 or older and born on or after January 1, 1989 would need boater education to operate a vessel without supervision. The provisions would become effective January 1, 2014.
“Wounded Warrior” Deer Permits
KDWPT has received numerous requests for special deer permits that could be issued to service-connected disabled combat veterans when special hunting opportunities become available. In response, KDWPT will propose to allow a certain number of deer permits to be issued to qualified disabled veterans who sustained injuries in combat, upon payment of the appropriate fees. The provisions of the bill would be effective upon publication in the Kansas Register.
Image courtesy Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism