August 2020 Great Lakes and Midwest Recap

August 2020 News NMMA

The third segment of NMMA’s August state advocacy recap features updates from the Great Lakes and Midwest regions, which are spearheaded by Jill Sims, manager of Great Lakes policy and engagement.

Access & Infrastructure

In Michigan, Governor Whitmer signed legislation (Senate Bill 145) authorizing $28.7 million in Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grants to create more opportunities for quality outdoor recreation. The legislation approves funding for 78 recreation development projects and land purchases recommend by the Natural Resources Trust Fund Board. Projects include acquisitions for fishery habitat for conservation and improving or creating public accesses, such as a new public fishing access site on the St. Joseph River Water Trail in Berrien County. Find full details of funded projects here.

In Ohio, boaters and anglers looking to launch at Dempsey Fishing Access to Lake Erie in Ottawa County should be aware that boat ramps are temporarily closed as of Monday, August 17. The boat basin at the Dempsey Fishing Access is undergoing a scheduled dredge project which will impact access Monday – Friday to all vehicle and boat traffic. However, ramps will reopen for use each Saturday and Sunday. The goal of the project is to remove 14,500 cubic yards of silt to ensure boating access will not be disrupted as Lake Erie returns to normal or lower water levels. Read more here.

Business Liability: As businesses deal with the ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic, outdated business liability rules have come to the forefront of business protection needs.

In Iowa, on June 18 Governor Kim Reynolds signed into law S. 2338. This law states that the premises owners shall not be held civilly liable for COVID-19 exposures or infections absent reckless disregard or actual malice.

In Kansas, on June 8 Governor Laura Kelly signed into law H.B. 2016. This law shields businesses from COVID-19 suits as long as they can prove they substantially complied with applicable regulations and guidance. The law is retroactive to March 12 and expires on January 26, 2021.

In Ohio, the House and Senate passed H.B. 606, a bill that would bar individuals from filing civil suits against premises owners and health care providers in connection with injuries or deaths stemming from coronavirus infection or exposure. The bill is currently awaiting signature from the Governor.

Wake Surfing: Wake surfing issues continue to impact the Great Lakes region.

In Minnesota, the University of Minnesota has crowdfunded a study focused on “Boat Wake Impacts on MN Lakes.” The study, which is scheduled to begin in September, will “measure the height and energy of waves and depth and force of propeller wash generated by wake boats and other large watercraft to better understand and quantify their impacts on lake bottoms shorelines.” Read more here.

In Wisconsin, there are several attempts through local ordinances to eliminate or limit wake surfing. NMMA is working in partnership with WSIA, MRAA and local stakeholders to mitigate the threat.

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