NMMA Announces State Legislative Actions

A new monthly series from the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) will highlight the Association’s policy activity by region, summarizing government actions that are impacting marine businesses and consumers, from COVID-19 regulations, to conservation, fisheries and other advocacy priorities. Below is information from the northeast and southeast.

Anchoring Legislation:

Georgia On June 23, Georgia Governor Kemp signed HB-833 into law, which fixes several issues that restricted boaters’ access to anchor Georgia’s tidal waters. The new law reduces the former 1,000-foot anchoring setback distance to allow docking for vessels 150 feet from a structure (including a private dock, pier, bridge, or wharf); 300 feet from a marina; and 500 feet from a shellfish bed.

HB-833 also creates “short term” (14 days) and “long term” anchoring. Vessels now can anchor for 14 cumulative days in the same location before needing to apply for a long-term anchoring permit. It also removes the sewage discharge requirements that already are addressed in federal law.

Wakesurfing:

  • North Carolina – The Lake Norman Marine Commission (LNMC) held its first meeting regarding lake use discussing safety issues and the effect waves are having against the shoreline by all boats. The need for boater education was highlighted as a priority moving forward.
  • New Hampshire – A report concluded that education, limited regulation and open access to public waters were the preferred ways to address concerns about wakesurfing. It was written by a legislative commission that included representatives from WSIA and other boating stakeholders, homeowners, and environmental groups. The report, testimony and scientific research can be found here. NMMA and WSIA distributed the report nationwide to key stakeholders who are expected to use it to better understand their options.

Business Liability: As businesses deal with the ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic, outdated business liability rules have come to the forefront of business protection needs.

  • Alabama – Executive Order SOE8 protects eligible businesses against claims of on-premises exposure to COVID-19. However, the immunity does not apply to lawsuits in which a plaintiff shows “clear and convincing evidence” of a business’s “wanton, reckless, willful, or intentional misconduct.”
  • Arkansas – Executive Order 20-33 protects any business that opened or remained open during the pandemic. All persons in the State of Arkansas are immune from civil liability for damages or injuries caused by or resulting from exposure of an individual to COVID-19 on the premises that they own or operate.
  • Georgia – Senate Bill 359 would provide immunity to businesses from liability for damages in COVID-19 liability actions unless the claimant can prove gross negligence, willful and wanton misconduct, reckless infliction of harm, or intentional infliction of harm. The legislation is under Governor Kemp’s review and awaits his signature.
  • Louisiana – Senate Bill 491 protects any person, who renders disaster relief, recovery services, or products outside of the typical course and scope of their operations in coordination with federal or state governments.
  • Mississippi – Senate Bill 3049 protects any person who attempts in good faith to follow applicable public health guidance from civil damages for any injuries or death resulting from or related to actual or alleged exposure or potential exposure to COVID-19.
  • North Carolina – House Bill 118 protects a person or business from being liable for any act or omission that does not amount to gross negligence, willful or wanton conduct, or intentional wrongdoing.
  • Oklahoma – Senate Bill 1946 protects any person who conducts business in the state. Businesses shall not be liable in a civil action claiming an injury from exposure or potential exposure to COVID-19 as long as the business was in compliance or consistent with federal or state regulations.
  • South Carolina – The Legislature is considering the “South Carolina COVID-19 Liability Safe Harbor Act”. If enacted, it would provide liability protection for any business or Individual that reasonably adheres to public health guidance.
  • Tennessee – The Tennessee Recovery and Safe Harbor Act stalled in the final moments of the legislative session. The legislature is currently in recess; however, leadership has hinted that it would call a special session in the fall to address business liability protections.
  • New Jersey: A4279 would protect manufacturers of PPE, AB 4190/SB 2522 would protect retailers including bars and restaurants, and AB4189/S2502 would provide general immunity for businesses and non-profits.
  • Pennsylvania: HB2639 would protect manufacturers of PPE. SB1194 would not only protect businesses from COVID-19 suits and limits the time a person has to file a lawsuit.

Travel Restrictions:

  • Connecticut, New Jersey and New York require visitors from states in which more than 10 per 100,000 residents tested positive for the virus or more than 10 percent of tests were positive, on a seven-day rolling average to self-quarantine for 14 days and submit a self-identification form.
  • Rhode Island requires visitors to self-quarantine if they travel from any of the 34 states listed hereunless they have proof of a negative COVID-19 test.
  • Massachusetts requires all travelers including returning residents to complete travel forms prior to arrival, unless visiting from a lower-risk state, and quarantine for 14 days or produce a negative COVID-19 test result that has been administered up to 72-hours prior to arrival in the Commonwealth.