The Mining Journal, April 13, 2018

Proposed watercraft fee won’t have desired impact

We sincerely hope the state drops its interest in setting up a new user fee system to cover paddle boats, canoes and kayaks.

The Michigan State Waterways Commission, the public entity that oversees such matters, voted in February in favor of registering “all rigid-hulled kayaks and canoes at a rate not to exceed $10 per year,” the Associated Press reported.

Although the concept is rooted in concerns about boater safety — the U.S. Coast Guard reports that Michigan had the fourth-highest number of boating fatalities in the U.S. in 2016 with 38 — we can’t see how this fee will do much to improve that number, given the number of people recreating on Michigan waterways each year and the almost limitless number of rivers, lakes and streams where said recreation takes place.

State Rep. Beau LaFave, a Republican from Iron Mountain, has come out against this proposal, noting, “This is one of the silliest things I’ve heard in my time as representative. What’s next? Will we have to register our water skis, our boogie boards, our wetsuits?”

Point taken.

A superficial case can always be made that more money will solve the problem. And sometimes that case is stronger than others. In this particular case, though, we just don’t see it. LaFave cites high costs for some families, rental companies and summer camps as among groups which would be most adversely impacted by the new set up. We have to agree.

The resolution and proposal are next expected to be discussed on April 25. We hope lawmakers make short work of it and move on to other more substantive matters.