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Bill would require larger boats to be licensed in North Dakota

The House has passed a measure to repeal a state law, allowing large boats, such as cabin cruisers, that are registered with the Coast Guard to not have a North Dakota registration.

Rep. Anna Novak (R-Hazen) said the idea was brought to the Legislature by someone who lives by the Missouri River. She told the House that person noted an increase in the number of those big boats that use the river – causing dangerous large wakes.

"A friend of the man who testified in committee was on a pontoon with his wife," Novak said. "A cabin cruiser went by, and caused such a large wake, it threw his wife into the table, and she ended up breaking two ribs."

Novak said he told another story, of another neighbor having a grandchild thrown off the deck of a pontoon by a large wake created by a cabin cruiser," Novak said.

Novak said the biggest issue is, since the large boats are not required to register with the state, they don't have identification numbers listed on their boats.

"They're difficult, and sometimes impossible, to track down after an incident takes place," Novak said.

Novak said the state Game and Fish Department registers all kinds of watercraft – from jet skis to pontoons – and the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee could not find any reason not to register cabin cruisers.

The bill — SB 2382 — passed unanimously – and is on its way to Gov. Burgum.