Assemblywoman Sandy Galef, 90th AD, continued to press for changes in boating safety regulations by attending a public hearing in Oyster Bay, Long Island yesterday. The hearing, conducted by the New York State Senate Standing Committee on Investigations and Government Operations, focused on boat accidents and fatalities and state action needed to make waterways in New York safer for all boaters and the boating public. Galef sponsors two bills with Senator David Carlucci to require boat safety education courses for all boaters of mechanically propelled vessel operators A3550/S6633, and to have insurers give discounts to boaters who have taken and passed a boat safety course A6452/S7199.
Testimony by multiple speakers at the hearing covered the need to require boat safety education courses, advance stronger penalties for boating while intoxicated (BWI), require insurance deductions for those taking boat safety courses, and set standards for the number of passengers allowed on all motorized vessels. Those testifying included Rose Harvey, NYS Commissioner of the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, as well as representatives from the US Power Squadrons, marine businesses, Nassau County Police Department, and yacht and boating clubs. Also in attendance were members of the family of 7 year old Victoria Gaines, who died tragically on July 4th when the boat she was on capsized after the fireworks display in Oyster Bay Harbor.
“There was a great deal of support expressed at the public hearing for the legislation I have introduced and I will continue to strongly advocate for its passage when we return to Albany,” commented Galef. “I also learned that we lack a coordinated system to go after repeat offenders in violations of boating standards so we cannot now track those with multiple BWI offenses. We need to set up regulations that mirror those we use to penalize offenses by automobile and truck drivers, as well as a system to track them.”
“Too many families have had to deal with these boating tragedies, including the family of Bryan Johnson of Ossining,” Galef continued. “We have to act now to make our waterways safer and protect our residents and visitors to our state from future accidents and fatalities.”
Galef submitted written testimony to the Senate Standing Committee on Investigations and Government Operations to gain further support for the legislation she has introduced in the Assembly. Her legislation requiring insurance discounts for those with boat safety certificates passed the Assembly and is waiting for Senate approval. The legislation requiring a phased-in approach to eventually have all boaters carry a boat safety certificate, is currently on the Assembly calendar and could come up for consideration at the next meeting of the Assembly. The assemblywoman encourages New Yorkers statewide to contact their state representatives in both houses to express the urgency of getting this legislation passed to help avert future tragedies.