State lawmakers comment on proposed kayak fees by Michigan State Waterways Commission

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LANSING — With growing concerns over boater safety, the idea of putting an annual fee of at least $10 on kayaks, canoes, and paddle boards was proposed by the Michigan State Waterways Commission.

In February, the commission unanimously voted 6-0 for the resolution as a way to help support search and rescue efforts when trying to identify an owner.

After speaking with several state lawmakers on the matter, the proposed vote is said to be an unpopular one.

Beau LaFave of the 110th District said, “I’m very much opposed to this idea of taxing us for our canoes. What’s next? Boogie boards? Wakeboards? Waterski’s? I don’t see where it’s going to end. It doesn’t make sense to me, so I’ll be in Lansing opposing that all the way long.”

Michigan watercraft safety is funded by registration fees paid by owners of powered watercrafts. The vote would also require out of state paddle craft to either register their boat in Michigan, or purchase a seasonal permit.

“A lot of people in different types of outdoor recreation do pay registration fees. But the kayaks and canoes, there’s a volume of them that are tremendous,” said Sen. Tom Casperson. “You’ve got people coming in from out of state, and they rent them…You’d hate to see us hurt that by doing something like this.”

109th District Rep. Sara Cambensy says that while the idea is very unpopular, she understands the reasoning behind it.

“To give you a perspective, I guess, from those communities or counties that are dealing with a lot of water rescue… They’re dealing with kind of a tax on their police services, their fire and rescue. To go out when there’s a big tourism industry, it cuts into things that they do day to day for their residents that live in those communities,” Cambensy said.

The proposal of the fees will be discussed in Lansing on April 25.

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