A student-driven proposal that would increase the age to operate a personal watercraft in Florida from 14 to 16 was tabled after it was not favored during its first committee appearance on Wednesday.
Members of the Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee criticized the proposal (SB 644) before it was tabled. They said it would hurt tourism and infringe on personal freedom. The senators also felt the current age limit keeps kids out of trouble.
Senator Alan Hays (Umatilla, R) pointed out there was a need for a “dose of reality” for the students.
The bills sponsor, Jeremy Ring (Margate, D) said he would continue to work with the American Water Craft Association. They are a group that opposes the measure presented by high-school students from Ring’s Broward County district.
The students came up with this concept because there has been a lot of boating tragedies.
The proposal is one of the two that have been proposed after the two Palm County 14-year-olds were lost at sea last summer after driving a boat out the Jupiter Inlet.
The other proposal (SB 746 and HB 427) would provide discounts of about 25 percent on annual registration fees if boaters have purchased and registered emergency locator devices.