Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

FWC May Resist Temptation to Over-Regulate

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

FWC May Resist Temptation to Over-Regulate

Article excerpt

The 2000 Florida Legislative session begins Tuesday, and while it's still early, there are signs that a new wind may be blowing in Tallahassee as far as legislation and regulation affecting boaters are concerned.

After more than 30 years in which first the Department of Natural Resources and its successor, the Department of Environmental Protection, had jurisdiction over boating issues such as registration, funding, law enforcement and regulations including speed zones, those tasks have been transferred to the new Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The boating functions were transferred to the new FWC -- which replaced the old Game & Freshwater Fish Commission last July 1, and this is the first year the agency will offer its boating legislation package.

It seems from the final bill summarized for the Feb. 25 meeting of the Florida Boating Advisory Council in Tallahassee that a new policy of pragmatism and realism and a hesitancy to legislate and regulate for the sake of doing so without good reason is in effect.

Col. Bob Edwards, head of the FWC Division of Law Enforcement and chairman of the FBAC, said last year that the new agency intended to be "customer-friendly," with the "customers" being Florida's boaters.

The package the FWC is presenting to the Legislature appears to back up that contention:

For example:

All-vessel registration -- The FWC decided as early as last year, after a report from an FBAC committee on the issue, that it would shelve a proposal -- at least for this session -- to register all boats, including canoes, kayaks and pure sailboats along with engine-powered craft.

Mandatory education/licensing -- The agency's bill would extend the age required to pass a boating-safety course and obtain a state-issued card from 21 to 26 by 2006. Some wanted the age cap removed altogether, which would mean that every boater in the state would have to have the cards. …

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