Huot's boat fee bill sails through N.H. Senate

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 Senate on a voice vote this week.
The House of Representatives passed the bill by a vote of 189 to 153 in March. Governor Maggie Hassan is expected to sign the bill when it reaches her desk.
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. In 2010 the Legislature transferred the $1-million balance in the navigation fund to the general fund to help balance the state budget.
"I'm pleased that after the fund was raided in the last budget there will be enough revenue to provide the maintenance of effort required to secure maximum funding from the Coast Guard," Huot said yesterday, "and enable Marine Patrol to ensure the safety of the public and maintain the more than 3,000 navigation aids on our lakes." He added that there may even be funds to begin repairing the facility at Glendale that houses the headquarters of Marine Patrol, which is settling into Lake Winnipesaukee.