Please note that the Board may update this information frequently - current version 11/30/21
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TO: RBAW Board
FROM: Doug Levy – 5/31/2022
RE: Report from State Lobbyist – MAY 2022
Laying the foundation for RBAW’s Lake Union water safety initiative. A (more) cleaned up Lakebay Marina. The startup of a new rulemaking on Watercraft Excise Tax assessments. Those were some of the highlights from the 31-day period that featured not only boating season’s Opening Day but also our region’s chilliest and wettest month of May since 1948.
Here is an update on some of the issues we sailed through during the month of May:
Lake Union Water Safety Initiative
RBAW began the month by responding to a “Letter of Intent” process through the state’s Recreation & Conservation Office (RCO), which saw us put together a proposal to use ½ of the state’s $300,000 allocation for n shore education, awareness, and outreach work to ensure motorized and non-motorized vessels on Lake Union this summer do everything possible to avoid conflicts with seaplanes. We are excited and honored to share that our RBAW proposal for a comprehensive “on shore” water safety campaign for Lake Union was selected to receive a $145,000 funding award from the state
The $300,000 in the state’s 2022 Operating Budget was prompted by the fact that Kenmore Air (and Harbor Air) will soon resume seaplane flights to and from Canada on Lake Union. Kenmore Air thus sought a way to better educate vessel users on Lake Union – particularly folks in kayaks and on Stand-Up Paddleboards (SUPs) who often have had little to no education on the “rules of the water” -- about the designated seaplane landing zone and the best ways to ensure safe and responsible behavior when the lights are flashing. As I previously mentioned, RBAW, as part of our ongoing commitment to water safety, helped successfully lobby for the $300,000 in funds to go into the state budget.
More details: RCO continues to look for an entity to award the “on-water” half of the state’s funding to – after the Maritime Volunteer and Education Foundation non-profit abruptly withdrew. (NOTE: RBAW had been asked to take on the on-the-water work but had significant concerns over capacity, training, liability risks, insurance, etc.).
I want to let folks know that RBAW’s VP for Administration Andrea Pierantozzi will spearhead our work on the Lake Union water safety initiative – and that we have contracted with a very talented gentleman named Kirk Myers to lead the strategy work around the campaign. Kirk is at the tail end of a professional sabbatical and boasts more than 15 years working on sustainability campaigns for the likes of Alaska Airlines and REI: Kirk Myers - Sustainability Innovation - Self-employed | LinkedIn
Lakebay Marina Update
Some great news to pass along, regarding the timeline for removal of a dilapidated dock at Lakebay and other cleanup information. A May 22 e-mail from our colleague Hannah Blackstock of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) notes: “I received our final permit for dock removal this morning and got word that our contractor would like to start work next week! Woohoo! Work is anticipated 6/1-6/8. Here’s the general timeline:
5/31: Mobilization of equipment to site
6/1: Arrival of final equipment, potentially begin boat removal (tide-dependent)
6/2: Boat removal, begin float deconstruction
6/3-6/7: Deconstruction – No work over weekend
6/8: Fuel dispenser decommission, fuel dock removal”
In recognition of progress at Lakebay, and the significance of the initiative to acquire and upgrade this historic site, there will be a June 3 press event that is expected to feature State Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz and our own RBAW President Bob Wise!
Watercraft Excise Tax Depreciation Schedule
The state Department of Revenue (DOR) filed a new rulemaking notice on May 12 to again update the Watercraft Excise Tax Depreciation Schedule that had been updated at the end of 2021. There will be a public hearing on DOR’s proposal on July 19 at 10 a.m. The rulemaking notice is here – go to the very bottom item on the list: Rule making agenda | Washington Department of Revenue
Folks may remember that in 2021, RBAW led an initiative to encourage safe and responsible boating on Andrews Bay, complete with safety “ambassadors” (from Rainier Yacht Club and others) and a prize drawing for folks who took the pledge. RBAW may look to put another safe-boating campaign together for Summer 2022. Board Member and Legislative Committee Member Doug Schumacher is running point on this one. If you want more information on becoming an Andrews Bay ambassador, CLICK HERE to email Doug.
Upcoming meeting with State Parks Director and Senior Staff
On June 14, at 10 a.m., several RBAW officials will be part of a meeting with the first female Director ever to lead Washington State Parks, Diana Dupuis. I will be sure to report back.
RBAW Legislative Committee
The RBAW Legislative Committee had its second meeting on May 18, with much of the discussion centering around the above-referenced work on the Lake Union Water Safety Initiative. VP of Government Affairs Steve Finney chairs the Committee, which is due to meet again on June 15.
Montlake Bridge Repairs
A quick note to alert you all that between May 20-23, the Washington State Department of Transportation finished its repair work on the Montlake Bridge! We had worked out a schedule of “single-leaf openings” of the bridge for boaters, but it’s still nice to have this one behind us.
A Stark Reminder of why we need the Seattle Harbor Patrol
This video clip already made the rounds on e-mail, but it’s worth resending. If ever we needed a stark reminder of the importance of having adequately funded harbor patrols on the water, it came on May 18, in the choppy waters adjacent to Interstate 90. That’s when a Seattle Harbor Patrol crew rescued a child and two adults (neither wearing lifejackets) as their rubber raft began to sink. By the time the ordeal was over, SHP had also rescued good Samaritans who attempted to help. Here both a KIRO-TV clip and the YouTube clip of the heroic rescue by the men and women of SHP:
Read the full report give by our VP of Government Affairs and our Lobbyist.
The State of Washington has unfairly saddled recreational boaters with an excise tax that is not collected in a similar manner from any other “users group.” Annual vessel registration fees include a tax equal to ½ of 1% of the market value of any recreational boat. These taxes are simply absorbed into the general fund of Washington State, and are in no way earmarked for improvements to boating infrastructure.
Other owners of recreational conveyances are not asked to pay a tax based on market value. For example, private aircraft pay a very small flat fee based entirely upon the type of aircraft. Excise taxes for aircraft are generally under $200 per year, and any private helicopter (regardless of value) pays a flat $90 renewal charge. A private helicopter worth $3-million pays a $90 excise tax, while the owner of a $3-million yacht would pay $15,000 annually.