A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Paddling permit bill still alive?

Written April 17th, 2017 by Hasso Hering

Under HB 2320 you would need a permit to use a nonmotorized boat like this on the Willamette and other Oregon waters.

I didn’t think the canoe permit bill would get very far in the 2017 Oregon legislature, but Rep. Knute Buehler has just launched a petition against it on Facebook, so maybe this attempt at regulatory overreach is still alive.

House Bill 2320 would launch an Oregon program to require a state permit and payment of a fee to paddle on our rivers and lakes in nonmotorized boats such as kayaks and canoes. I wrote about in January.

As proposed in the bill, the fees would be $4 for a week, $12 for a year, or $20 for two years. The Oregon Marine Board guesses the money might amount to a million dollars in a two-year budget period. The bill also demands that people wear life jackets when riding on float toys such as inner tubes or air mattresses.

“Where does it end?” asks Buehler in a Facebook posting that invites people to sign his petition against the bill. He’s a surgeon and a Republican representative from Bend.

The House Committee on Transportation Policy held a hearing on HB 2320 on March 1 without acting on it, and as of Monday the committee’s calendar showed no further meetings on the issue. So maybe the members recognize that requiring a permit for the simple pleasure of paddling a canoe down our rivers does indeed go too far.

Or maybe, unlikely as it seems, they took to heart the testimony of Ronald D. Hilbert of Roseburg, one of the many witnesses at the March 1 hearing. Hilbert is a shot in the American Canoe Association. He pointed to a section in the congressional act that admitted Oregon as a state in 1859. “All the navigable waters of said state,” the law says, “shall be common highways and forever free… without any tax, duty, impost, or toll therefor.”

With that in mind, the state or some other jurisdiction might impose a fee for using state-provided launch ramps and such, but they probably can’t require permits or collect a fee for floating on the water itself. (hh)

15 responses to “Paddling permit bill still alive?”

  1. John Hartman says:

    Hering is willing to pay a fee for motorized boats, or at the very least he’s not demonstrating any angst in this particular screed. One must then question his logic. Why the strong objection to paddled boats. The boat’s the thing, not the motor. Does Hering honestly believe that canoeists and kayakers do not add to the stress on Oregon waterways? Does Hering believe that no paddler has ever left trash along pristine shorelines, or dumped beer cans into our lakes? As to the mandatory wearing of life-jackets, Knute Buehler should have his law banning them. if you want to be a fool, please go ahead. Just don’t ask folks to rescue you when the s… Hits the fan

  2. Bill Higby says:

    After paying licensing fees for two boats that I barely use, invasive species tags for them and a rarely used canoe, and $99 for the privilege of fishing occasionally, I do feel well taxed.

    • Jackson Cauter says:

      Please pardon my intrusion, but the boating related taxes you seem to suffer from so mightily fall into the category of “White people’s problems.” In short, you’ve got three boats. Seems that if the taxes were really a difficulty, one or more of the floating tax burdens would be sold off. Just sayin’

  3. J Wilson says:

    RE: Hartman – wait, what? Not talking about motorized boats regarding a bill targeting non-motorized boats isn’t angst or admission to approval of taxing motorized boats. That’s like saying you didn’t mention passenger ferries in your post so you’re bias to them. Or why didn’t you talk about train bridge crossings over roads, that must mean you have a secret agenda for the railroad companies!!

    Seriously though, I don’t want mandatory lifejackets for when I’m tubing along the Alsea River, which is maybe waist deep in the places I like to float. Also, we have penalties in place for people that litter, regardless of where they are at or what they are doing. Or are you saying that paying a $4 fee gives people carte blanche to toss trash into our waterways because that money will be used to pay others to clean it up? That sounds worse!

  4. Tony White says:

    As OR strives to emulate CA, more and more simple activities of life will have to be taxed and regulated. Government intrusion into our lives will only end when liberal progressives are chucked out of office for sensible governance.

  5. Rich Kellum says:

    How about a tax on bicycles, say $25 per year for bike lanes.

  6. Rich Kellum says:

    Realistically this is just the Legislature looking for money, whatever and wherever they can grab it…. what next a tax on the color of your roof, to save energy if it is dark in the winter or white in the summer……

  7. Hasso Hering says:

    We can all relax. HB 2320 apparently did not survive the April 18 deadline for bills to clear their policy committees in order to advance. (hh)

  8. Leroy says:

    I think the loons who offered taxing on non motorized water craft
    Should be banned from future contributions.


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