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Final Bill Analysis

Legislative Service Commission

Effective Date from the Status Report of Legislation: 07/05/02 Effective
Because of Ohio Supreme Court interpretations, effective dates published in the Status Report of Legislation are not authoritative, and users of the Status Report of Legislation rely upon them at their own risk. The effective dates have been unofficially and undefinitively determined by the LSC Division of Legal Review and Technical Services solely for the convenience of users.

Signed by Governor: 04/05/02
Subject: Environment and Natural Resources

Sub. S.B. 150
124th General Assembly
(As Passed by the General Assembly)

Generally, watercraft that are used on Ohio waters must be registered triennially by the Division of Watercraft in the Department of Natural Resources. For purposes of the registration fee, watercraft are classified by length. Continuing law also generally requires each watercraft to be numbered by the state. However, certain types of watercraft are exempt from registration, state numbering, or both.
Optional numbering for canoes, rowboats, and inflatable watercraft
Under prior and continuing law, the state must assign a number to the majority of watercraft operated on the waters in this state. This identification number is permanent and stays with that watercraft. In motor vehicle terms, a watercraft number is similar to a permanent license plate. If the ownership of the watercraft changes to another Ohio resident, that number remains assigned to the watercraft; the new owner, however, must obtain a registration certificate to the watercraft in the new owner's name. Under prior law, canoes, rowboats, and inflatable watercraft were required to be numbered.
The act allows an owner of a canoe, rowboat, or inflatable watercraft that is registered individually rather than as part of a livery to choose whether or not to have the watercraft numbered by the state. An owner who chooses to have such a watercraft numbered by the state must comply with continuing law's requirements to pay a registration fee of $12 to obtain two square tags that are not larger than three inches square, are color coded, and indicate the expiration date of the registration certificate. The tags must be affixed to each side of the watercraft. Such a watercraft also must have the permanent identification number attached to each side of its bow. (Secs. 1547.53(H), 1547.54(A)(2), and 1547.57(A) and (B).)
An owner who chooses not to have watercraft permanently numbered must pay a higher registration fee of $17 and obtain a rectangular tag of not larger than three inches by six inches, with distinguishing color coding and a number for identification purposes. The owner must affix the tag to a location on the watercraft as prescribed by rules adopted by the Chief of the Division of Watercraft. (Secs. 1547.53(H), 1547.54(A)(2), and 1547.57(C).)
Under continuing law, a registration certificate must be on the watercraft for which it is issued and available at all times for inspection whenever the watercraft is in operation. The requirement does not apply to livery operators, who may keep the registration certificate at the livery where it must be available for inspection at all times. The act creates a second exemption for canoes, rowboats, and inflatable watercraft that have not been numbered by the state under the act. A person who is operating such a watercraft on Ohio waters and who is stopped by a law enforcement officer in the enforcement of Ohio's watercraft statutes and rules must present a registration certificate to the officer not later than 72 hours after being stopped. The registration certificate must have been obtained prior to the time that the watercraft was stopped. Failure to present the registration certificate within that time constitutes prima-facie evidence of a violation of the requirement to register the watercraft. (Sec. 1547.54(D).)
Hull identification numbers
Federal law requires a watercraft constructed on or after November 1, 1972, to have a hull identification number permanently displayed and affixed to it in accordance with federal requirements. This is the boat's serial number, analogous to a motor vehicle's vehicle identification number. The act adds this requirement to state law and also requires a watercraft constructed before that date to have a hull identification number assigned to it by the Chief at the time of registration, at the time of application for title, after transfer of ownership, or at the time of a change to Ohio as the principal location of operation. This serial number must be permanently displayed and affixed as prescribed by rules adopted under the Watercraft and Waterways Law. Similarly, a person who builds a watercraft or imports a watercraft from another country for personal use and not for the purpose of sale must request a hull identification from the Chief and permanently display and affix the number as prescribed by rules adopted under that Law. (Sec. 1547.65(A), (B), and (C).)
The act prohibits a person from operating or permitting to be operated any watercraft on the waters in Ohio in violation of the above provisions (sec. 1547.65(D)). Violation is a misdemeanor of the fourth degree (sec. 1547.99(F)).
Livery registration fees
Under continuing law, the owner of any number of canoes, kayaks, rowboats, inflatable watercraft, or sailboats for rental to the public may apply to the Chief for an annual certificate of livery registration. Under prior law, the registration fee for each watercraft included in the livery registration was the same as the fee for such watercraft that were registered individually and had to be paid triennially. The act instead requires the fee for each watercraft that is registered as part of a livery to be an annual fee in an amount that is one-third of the applicable triennial registration fee. It also removes references to kayaks because those watercraft are included in the existing definition of "canoe" (see below). (Secs. 1547.54(A) and 1547.542.)
Definitions of "watercraft," "canoe," "rowboat," "vessel," and "inflatable watercraft"
The act revises the definitions of "watercraft," "canoe," "rowboat," "vessel," and "inflatable watercraft" for the purposes of the Watercraft and Waterways Law. Under continuing law, "watercraft" means several types of crafts when used or capable of being used for transportation on the water. Under prior law, one watercraft type was an inflatable, manually propelled boat having a hull identification number meeting the requirements of the United States Coast Guard. The act replaces having such a hull identification number with required by federal law to have such a hull identification number. (Sec. 1547.01(A)(3).) Previously, "canoe" meant a narrow vessel of shallow draft, pointed at both ends and propelled by human muscular effort, and included kayaks. The act adds racing shells and rowing sculls to the definition. (Sec. 1547.01(B)(13).) It also clarifies the definition of "rowboat" by specifying that a rowboat does not include a canoe (sec. 1547.01(B)(2)). Under prior law, a "vessel" included every description of watercraft, including nondisplacement craft and seaplanes, used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on water. The act modifies this definition so that a vessel includes every description of craft, including nondisplacement craft and seaplanes, designed to be used as a means of transportation on water. (Sec. 1547.01(B)(1).) Finally, the act includes in the definition of "inflatable watercraft" a requirement that inflatable watercraft propelled by a sail be classified as a sailboat and registered by length (sec. 1547.01(B)(20)).
Exemption from numbering and registration for certain publicly owned watercraft
Included in the existing exemptions from the requirement that watercraft be numbered by the state are watercraft whose owner is the United States, a state, or a political subdivision of a state. Through a cross-reference to another statute, those watercraft also are exempt from registration by the state.
The act clarifies the exemption from numbering, and thus from registration, by specifying that such a publicly owned watercraft must be clearly identifiable as such and must be either a powercraft that principally is used for governmental purposes other than recreational purposes or a watercraft other than a powercraft (sec. 1547.53(D)). Continuing law defines "powercraft" to mean any vessel propelled by machinery, fuel, rockets, or similar device (sec. 1547.01(B)(4)).
Personal floatation requirements
Prior law prohibited anyone from operating or permitting to be operated any watercraft, other than a commercial vessel, on the waters in Ohio without specified numbers and types of personal floatation devices based on the length of the watercraft. A separate prohibition and requirements exist for commercial vessels. The act revises the first prohibition by applying it to "vessels" rather than "watercraft" and excluding any vessel that is exempted in rules adopted under the Watercraft and Waterways Law. (Sec. 1547.25(A) and (C).)
Similarly, prior law provided that each personal floatation device carried aboard a "watercraft or commercial vessel" had to be Coast Guard approved and in good and serviceable condition, of appropriate size for the wearer, and readily accessible to each person aboard the watercraft at all times. The act revises the requirement by applying it to "vessels." (Sec. 1547.25(D).)
Sale of abandoned watercraft or outboard motor
Continuing law provides that the owner of any property on which a watercraft or outboard motor valued at less than $10,000 has been left for six months without permission may sell the watercraft or motor at public auction when specified conditions are met. One of the conditions under prior law required the owner of the property to request the Chief of the Division of Watercraft or his designee, an appointee of the Chief who had to be a watercraft dealer licensed in accordance with a former provision of the Watercraft and Waterways Law that required dealers to be licensed, or an independent marine surveyor and appraiser to appraise the watercraft or motor and secure from the Chief or his designee written confirmation that the fair market value was less than $10,000. The Chief or his designee had to make the appraisal when requested and give to the owner of the property written confirmation that the value had been correctly determined.
The act removes references to the Chief or his designee. Thus, the owner of the property must request a watercraft dealer certified in accordance with the Watercraft and Waterways Law or an independent marine surveyor and appraiser to appraise the watercraft or motor and secure written confirmation that the fair market value is less than $10,000. (Sec. 4585.31(D).)

07-31-01p. 837
    Reported, S. Energy, Natural
    Resources, & Environment


p. 1325
    Passed Senate (33-0)
01-22-02p. 1332
    Reported, H. Transportation
    & Public Safety


p. 1470
    Passed House (95-0)
03-19-02pp. 1557-1558
    Senate concurrence (31-0)
03-20-02pp. 1605-1606

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