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SC Boating and Safety Education legislation creeps toward reality after 3rd reading in the SC House

Lexington, SC 05/04/2023 (Paul Kirby) – Randall Smith of Gilbert, who is a tireless supporter of boating safety in South Carolina and the founder and chairman of Boating Safety South Carolina, reported late Thursday on the current status of the new Boating Safety and Education Bill (S.96). This bill has been slowly working its way through the SC Legislature for the past 3 years.

Smith said on Wednesday the bill has passed its third reading in the SC House. The bill had been mired in political mud in the House and its appropriate committee long after it was passed by the Senate. The Bill had changes made in the House so it will now need to return to the Senate with amendments. According to Smith, consideration on the amendments should be completed by the end of next week.

Here is a look at the three amendments proposed by some of the House members and where Boating Safety South Carolina stands on each of those changes.

  • The first amendment was proposed by Rep. Guffey of Rock Hill that changed the definition of engine to include an electric motor. According to Smith, Boating Safety South Carolina supports this amendment.

  • The second amendment was made by Rep. Rutherford of Columbia. His amendment would exempt watercraft operators from having to carry proof that they have completed a Boating Safety Course. Smith said that Boating Safety South Carolina does not support this amendment.

  • The third amendment was made by Rep. Lowe of Florence that would exempt hunters or fishermen from taking a Boating Safety Course. Boating Safety South Carolina also does not support this amendment.

Smith went on to say that Senate discussion on the House’s amenities will most likely happen next Tuesday, May 9th. The primary sponsor of the legislation Senator Chip Campsen has been out of town but will return on Tuesday, according to his office.

The Senate will decide next week whether to accept the changes. If the Senate does not accept the changes as proposed, a conference committee will be appointed to work out the differences. Three members of the House and three members of the Senate will be appointed to the committee. A supporting vote by two members of each chamber is needed. If a compromise is agreed upon, the Bill will then be returned to each chamber for a full final vote.

Because of the overwhelming support in both the House and Senate, Smith said he is confident a compromise will be reached, and this legislation will finally become law. He also said that he and his family wanted to take this opportunity to personally thank all of Legislature that supported this legislation.

We will update this story once the future of this Boating Safety and Education Bill is certain.


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