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Calley signs bill to ensure public access to Michigan's lakes and rivers

Thursday, March 22, 2012

LANSING, Mich. - Lt. Gov. Brian Calley today signed legislation ensuring that public access to Michigan's many lakes and streams is not obstructed by illegal boating-related activities.

Senate Bill 778, sponsored by state Sen. Mike Kowall, addresses a number of citizen complaints about inappropriate use of public road ends designated for public water access. Codifying several court decisions, the bill makes it a misdemeanor to use road ends for placing boat hoists or boat anchorage systems, mooring or docking boats between midnight and sunrise and installing a dock or wharf. Only single-season docks authorized by local government and approved by the Department of Environmental Quality will be permitted.

The misdemeanor is punishable by a maximum fine of $500 per day of violation.

"Water is one of the most precious natural resources the Great Lakes State has to offer," Calley said. "Michiganders should have access to responsibly enjoy Pure Michigan's lakes and rivers."

The bill now is Public Act 56 of 2012.

Calley also signed seven other bills:

S.B. 634, sponsored by state Sen. Joe Hune, helps Michigan's farmers to have enough cash on hand for the harvest by allowing partnerships to defer summer property taxes on agricultural property. This extends the deferral already offered to limited liability corporations. Taxes for these groups will be due on Feb. 15 instead of the usual date of Sept. 15. The bill now is P.A. 57.

House Bill 4639, sponsored by state Rep. Kurt Damrow, recognizes the right of Michigan's servicemen and women to designate a family member or friend to make decisions regarding funeral arrangements and the handling of the service member's remains. The bill now is P.A. 63.

H.B. 4846, sponsored by state Rep. Wayne Schmidt, enhances water safety by requiring those towed by a boat, such as water skiers and tubers, to wear personal floatation devices. The bill now is P.A. 58.

H.B. 4847, sponsored by state Rep. Harold Haugh, requires moored barges to be lit so other boaters can see the coming hazard even while operating in the dark. It also requires the name and contact information of owners to be marked on the side of the barge should law enforcement need to reach them. The bill now is P.A. 59.

H.B. 4848, sponsored by state Rep. Andrea LaFontaine, changes the charge for fleeing and eluding in a water vessel from a misdemeanor to a felony, matching the penalty for the same crime in a motor vehicle and increasing safety for other boaters. The bill now is P.A. 60.

H.B. 5109, sponsored by state Rep. Nancy Jenkins, reinstates language from an expired statute that allows children under the age of 12 to wear a Type III personal flotation device while aboard a boat. When the statute expired in 2009, law reverted to previous language that required children to wear Type I or Type II personal flotation devices, which are hard to find and often specifically labeled against use on a personal watercraft. Allowing Type III devices provides for children's water safety while making room for realistic compliance.

The types of floatation devices provide different pounds of buoyancy appropriate for use in different water conditions.

 The bill now is P.A. 61.

H.B. 5110, sponsored by state Rep. Richard LeBlanc, removes the ability of peace officers to arbitrarily stop boaters to check for adequate flotation devices. Repeated stops without reasonable suspicion of violation are an unnecessary hindrance for boaters. The bill now is P.A. 62.

Gov. Rick Snyder is on a trade mission to Italy and Germany this week. Article V, Section 26 of the Michigan Constitution gives authority to the lieutenant governor when the governor is outside the state.

Visit for more information on the bills.