Bill to require life jackets for paddle boaters may not hit Legislature until 2013

Posted Oct. 23, 2011, at 4:41 p.m.

ELLSWORTH, Maine — A Hancock County legislator who submitted a bill that would require paddle boaters to wear life preservers said Sunday he is not sure if it will be debated during next year’s emergency legislative session.

State Rep. Richard Malaby of Hancock said that the bill will be considered by the Legislative Council, which is comprised of the leaders of the House and Senate, at the end of this month. If they decide to accept it, he said, it would be referred to the Legislature’s inland fisheries and wildlife committee.

Malaby said he is “not optimistic” about the proposal being accepted for the Legislature’s emergency session, which is scheduled to run from next January through April. If it is not accepted, the earliest it would be considered by legislators in January 2013.

Malaby has said he would like to have the bill considered this winter so, if it is adopted into law, it could go in effect by next year’s tourist season. He submitted the bill at the urging of a constituent who expressed concern about the number of boating-related deaths that have occurred in Maine this year, three of which involved kayakers in Hancock County.

According to Malaby, the proposed law would apply only to canoers and kayakers, not to people in dinghies or other types of boats.

State and federal laws require boaters to have personal flotation devices for everyone who is on a vessel. State law does not require people on boats to be wear a PFD unless they are 10 years old or younger. Federal law requires children 12 and under to wear PFDs when on a vessel in marine waters.

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