Huot's boat fee bill passes House

CONCORD — A bill sponsored by Representative David Huot (D-Laconia) that would repeal a statute halving boat registration fees scheduled to take effect on July 1, 2015, carried the New Hampshire House of Representatives by a vote of 189 to 153 yesterday.
With one exception, the 18 members of the Belknap County Delegation split along strict party lines with the five Democrats in favor and 13 of the 15 Republicans opposed. Representative Herb Vadney of Meredith was the lone Republican to support the bill and Representative Bob Luther (R-Laconia) did not vote.
The registration fees are deposited in the navigation fund, which together with an annual matching grant from the United States Coast Guard are the major sources of funding for the Marine Patrol. The fees, which had not been raised since they were introduced, were doubled in 2009 when the growth in number of registered vessels stalled, and expenses began outrunning revenues.
Huot filed House Bill 411 to maintain the fees set in 2009 at the request of the Department of Safety, which feared that the prospective reduction in revenue would cripple the operations of the Marine Patrol and forestall the renovation of its facilities at Glendale.
Apart from the prospect of halving the in the 2011-2012 budget, the balance in the navigation fund, some $1-million was stripped and transferred to the general fund to help balance the state budget. Huot said that a share of funds were designated for the facility at Glendale in Gilford, which is partially settling into Lake Winnipesaukee. The department was not only compelled to defer work at Glendale, but also to reduce the personnel deployed on the lakes last summer from 60 to 39. Moreover, without sufficient matching funds, the grant from the Coast Guard is at risk, which could prompt further reductions in personnel this summer.