State House aims to ease boat liquor license process

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Bill would reduce required number of passengers from 100 to 30

A new Missouri State House bill plans to ease restrictions for boat liquor license applications by reducing the required number of passengers from 100 to 30.

If the proposed legislation becomes law, State Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick, R-Shell Knob, who sponsored the bill, said it would not only make the playing field more level, but it could create more outlets for people to consume alcohol on boats.

"It will hopefully decrease the incidents of people boating while intoxicated and hopefully make the lakes a safer place to be," Fitzpatrick said.

Boat crash data from the Missouri Highway Patrol indicated that alcohol or drugs led to 13 fatalities, 45 injuries and 35 property damage incidents from 2011 to 2013. The data also showed that 10 of the 13 fatalities occurred in 2013.

The bill applies to Coast Guard-certified vessels that are operated by a licensed captain, said Fitzpatrick, who talked to the Highway Patrol's Water Patrol Division about the current law after discussing it with a concerned party at a Coast Guard Auxiliary banquet in 2013.

"I think 30, given the size of the boat and the size of the body of water on the lake, is a pretty reasonable size for somebody to be able to operate a vessel while people are consuming alcohol," he said.

Sheila Thomas, executive director of the Table Rock Lake Chamber of Commerce, said the proposed legislation might open up an opportunity for a business to branch out and offer different types of services to its customers.

"That would certainly be an economic benefit, I would think," Thomas said.

If passed, the bill could take effect Aug. 28.

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