Bill Requiring Estimates for Servicing Disabled Boaters Passes First Stop

TALLAHASSEE – A Senate bill that would require marine salvage and towing companies to provide an estimate for towing disabled watercraft back to shore passed its first committee stop despite opposition from some groups.

FL SB664 (18R) would require the written cost estimate if requested by customers before providing salvage work costing more than $500. State Sen. Dana Young (R-Tampa) said in November that she was filing the legislation to prevent what she calls “modern-day piracy.”

Young told the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee on Monday that she had just met with several industry representatives who raised concerns about the bill. She said she expects to amend the bill in the future to avoid providing a disincentive for companies to “saving human lives, rescuing vessels and ultimately saving money over the long run by not having them sink.”

But state Sen. Jack Latvala, (R-Clearwater) asked whether Young was committing to developing a “consensus package” or was just moving the bill “down the road.”

Young said she would not commit to only moving the legislation if it is a consensus product. She said she would work with the industry toward reaching agreement but cannot guarantee “that they will like it and it will be a Kumbaya moment.”

“I think we can get pretty darn close and I am committed to working to do that,” Young said.

Bonnie Basham of BoatUS boat towing and insurance company said that states cannot regulate price and penalty under maritime law. “We believe there is a better way to skin this cat and help these boaters, and we look forward to working with the senator on that,” she said.

The bill passed with only Latvala voting against it. S.B. 664 has two more committee stops.

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