CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Wednesday, August 1, 2012, the House is scheduled to consider H.R. 5797, the Mille Lacs Lake Freedom To Fish Act of 2012, under a suspension of the rules requiring a two-thirds majority vote for approval. The bill was introduced on May 17, 2012, by Rep. Chip Cravaak (R-MN) and referred to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.
H.R. 5797 would amend current law to specifically exclude Mille Lacs Lake in Minnesota from new requirements that vessel owners and fishing guides on the lake obtain federal Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vessel Licenses from the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG). These requirements were implemented in March 2010. Prior to that time, the State of Minnesota was responsible for the regulation and licensing of fishing guides on the lake.
In 2010, the United States Coast Guard (USCG) determined that Mille Lacs Lake in Minnesota is a navigable waterway. As a result, USCG is developing regulations that will require all vessel owners who wish to use their boats on that lake to obtain federal captains’ licenses and to submit their boats to annual USCG inspections. Most of those revenues from these licenses will be deposited into the general fund of the Treasury under the new USCG requirements. Licenses will cost $240 per person, and annual inspections will cost between $300 and $600 each. By enacting H.R. 5797, the government would not collect those revenues. Based on information from the USCG, CBO estimates that there are fewer than 50 owner-operators who will have to comply with the licensing and inspection regulations. Assuming regulations are finalized by 2013, CBO estimates that enacting the bill would result in an insignificant loss of annual revenue beginning that year.
According to sponsor’s office, “In March of 2010, the Coast Guard began requiring fishing guides on Lake Mille Lacs to acquire a federal ‘six-pack’ boating license to continue to do their jobs. This certification is difficult to obtain and can cost individual fishing guides up to $2,000 in fees, training, and travel costs. In fact, the two closest testing locations are located in Toledo, OH and St. Louis, MO. Citing historical interstate commerce, this policy change was based on a 1981 Army Corps of Engineers determination that the lake had been used in the 1800s for logging. Ironically, this decision was made despite the fact that the Rum River, which formerly connected the lake to the Mississippi River, had been dammed for decades.”
According to CBO enacting the bill would result in an insignificant loss of annual revenue beginning in 2013.