HB 784 would raise boat registration fees
A bill to raise fees to register boats in Louisiana failed in the state House of Representatives Wednesday, falling one vote short of the necessary two-thirds majority.
Under the proposed law, all the money from these fee increases would have gone to the Aquatic Plant Control fund.
State Rep. Gene Reynolds, D-Minden, one of the bill’s authors, said the increase in funding would have allowed for more spraying and research on giant salvinia and other aquatic weeds that plague Louisiana waters like Lake Bistineau.
“This would have put another $950,000 in the fund,” he said. “I guess the ones that voted ‘no’ have never experienced the water cancer salvinia.”
There are three different fee brackets depending on the length of the boat being registered. The bill would have increased each bracket by $9, with the smallest bracket rising from $20 to $29.
The bill received 69 yes votes and 19 no votes, with 17 representatives absent. The two-thirds majority needed to pass is 70 votes.
Salvinia, an invasive aquatic plant native to South America, is a weed that spreads rapidly, doubling in mass every three to five days. Its size and acreage covered means it is difficult for boaters and fishers to navigate waters.
A flyover by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to inspect Lake Bistineau in early April discovered the “lake looks the best it has in 3 to 4 years.”
Officials estimate the salvinia coverage has dropped from 3,700 acres in summer 2017 to 400 acres at the beginning of the month.
According to previous Press-Herald reports, the LDWF spent over $800,000 last year spraying chemicals on Lake Bistineau alone. The spray, months of cold weather, and even imported weevils have all contributed to salvinia’s decline on the lake. While the coverage is down, as usual, the plant has survived.
“We can bring [the bill] back up, but once again 70 votes in the House is a tough pathway,” Reynolds said.