MN Hospitality Advocate

Resolutions Regarding Coast Guard “Six-Pack” License Pass

Posted in General Advocacy, Resort Issues, State Laws, Tourism Issues by hospitalityminnesota on March 2, 2010

Minnesota House and Senate committees yesterday passed resolutions urging Congress to address federal statutes regarding licensure of boat captains on federally navigable inland waterways. For a complete understanding of the issue, check the issue brief on our website.

The resolutions are SF 2780, authored by Senators Olson-DFL Bemidji, Koering, R-Fort Ripley and Chaudary, DFL-Fridley and its companion HF 3162, authored by Representative Dill-DFL-Crane Lake. The text of the bill essentially says that he Minnesota Legislature should resolve that Congress speedily enact legislation requiring the U.S. Coast Guard to develop licensing appropriate to smaller vessels operating on inland waters and to establish interim enforcement that addresses safety issues without penalizing small vessel operators for issues that do not relate to inland lakes.

This bill relates to the “six-pack” mandate that small boat operators on Coast Guard “navigable” waters are subject to burdensome licensing and testing. In the past, this federal standard had not been actively enforced, but that recently changed, bringing to light the inland lake problem. The actual text of the bill is available here.

U.S. Coast Guard qualifications for licensing of an Operator of an Uninspected Passenger Vessel (or “Six-Pack”) was not designed for most inland lakes or rivers nor for small vessels such as 16-20 foot outboard boats. For the past several decades, the Coast Guard has exercised discretion in its enforcement of the “Six–Pack” licensing. But recently, enforcement of the rules was stepped up, leading to discovery of the issue.

Minnesota’s tourism industry supports licensing and oversight to ensure public safety on Minnesota’s lakes and rivers. The state has over 500 guides who take anglers on inland navigable waters and hundreds of resorts and businesses that offer casual boat/pontoon rides to their guests. The Coast Guard licensure would be both expensive and burdensome for our resort operators and guides.

We’re pleased that our Minnesota legislators agree and commend the authors of the resolutions for highlighting the issue.

David Siegel, CAE, IOM
Minnesota Restaurant, Lodging and Resort & Campground Associations and Hospitality Minnesota