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Lawmakers OK bill requiring safety course for motorboat owners

ALBANY – Owners of any kind of boat that has a motor attached will be required to take a boating safety course in New York State under legislation given final approval Tuesday by the Assembly.

The Buffalo News previously reported in May that there was a two-way deal between the Assembly and Senate to approve the measure. The Senate adopted the bill several weeks ago, and it will now go to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo for his expected approval. Lawmakers said Cuomo’s parks department was part of the talks that led to a deal.

Current law requires people born after May 1, 1996, to complete a boater safety course. The new legislation removes the date, applying the law to people from their mid-20s to older boaters who may have never had their skills formally updated through a class.

The Senate sponsor, John Brooks, a Long Island Democrat, said last month that the law will not apply to people who rent boats. Such consumers are already supposed to have a basic lesson – though compliance is pretty spotty for anyone who has ever rented a boat in New York – prior to leaving a dock.

The courses could be done online or in person, and could last several hours or more and cost an estimated $10 to $60 or more.

Lawmakers decided against imposing fines against boaters who do not take the safety courses, leaving compliance by consumers to be entirely voluntary.

The measure has kicked around for a decade: it’s named for Brianna Lieneck, an 11-year-old girl killed in a boating accident in Long Island’s Great South Bay in 2005.

“Summer is coming, and more and more New Yorkers are heading to our lakes, rivers and waterways. Requiring boaters to take safety classes before heading out on the water will help save lives and prevent accidents from Lake Erie to the Long Island Sound," Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, a Bronx Democrat, said Tuesday after his house passed the measure.

There are about 450,000 registered motorboats in the state.

State will require boating safety course for all motor boat owners

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