Things might be changing at the federal level now, but in Oregon the regulators never sleep. Nor the taxers. Now they have their eyes on people rowing boats on our lakes and paddling or floating down our rivers.
The Bulletin newspaper in Bend called my attention to House Bill 2320, introduced in the 2017 legislature at the request of Gov. Kate Brown for the State Marine Board. The bill would do a couple of things. It would require people to wear life jackets when floating on inner tubes or air mattresses or any other “nonmotorized craft.” And for the use of “nonmotorized boats” such as canoes, where life jackets already must be on hand, the bill would establish a permit requirement accompanied by fees.
If you want to mess about on the water in a canoe or kayak, a one-week permit would cost $4. A yearly one would be $12, and for $20 the permit would be good for two years. Boaters would have to carry the permits while on the water and produce them when a peace officer asks.
The fee amounts are small. (The bill doesn’t say, but presumably the nonmotorized fee would be in addition to the seven dollars or so already charged for the required annual permit to guard against invasive species.) And it’s not unreasonable for the state to seek more user revenue to help offset the cost of providing riverside facilities such as launch ramps and restrooms.
What irks is not the fee but the depressing feeling that life in Oregon is increasingly circumscribed by regulations and permits. (hh)