You are on page 1of 6



Office of Senate Floor Analyses
1020 N Street, Suite 524
(916) 651-1520 Fax: (916) 327-4478
SB 941


Bill No: SB 941
Author: Monning (D) and DeSaulnier (D), et al.
Amended: 8/18/14
Vote: 21

AYES: Pavley, Evans, Hueso, Jackson, Lara, Monning, Wolk
NOES: Fuller

AYES: Gatto, Bocanegra, Bradford, Ian Calderon, Campos, Eggman, Gomez,
Holden, Pan, Quirk, Ridley-Thomas, Weber
NOES: Bigelow, Donnelly, Jones, Linder, Wagner

SENATE FLOOR: 24-10, 5/28/14
AYES: Beall, Block, Cannella, Corbett, Correa, De Len, DeSaulnier, Evans,
Galgiani, Hernandez, Hill, Hueso, Jackson, Lara, Leno, Lieu, Mitchell,
Monning, Padilla, Pavley, Roth, Steinberg, Torres, Wolk
NOES: Anderson, Berryhill, Gaines, Huff, Knight, Morrell, Nielsen, Vidak,
Walters, Wyland
NO VOTE RECORDED: Calderon, Fuller, Hancock, Liu, Wright, Yee

ASSEMBLY FLOOR: 51-25, 8/20/14 - See last page for vote

SUBJECT: Vessel operator cards

SOURCE: Author

DIGEST: This bill requires that the Division of Boating and Waterways
(Division) develop a vessel operator education program and issue a vessel operator
SB 941
Page 2

card, as specified; and prohibits the operation of any vessel with an engine by
anyone who had not received one of the new vessel operator cards with certain

Assembly Amendments exempt a person who has successfully completed a
boating course approved by the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and
Training from the requirement to possess a vessel operator card; and require the
Division to annually report on its Internet Web site the number of cards issued, fee
collections, administrative costs, the correlation between card issuance and boating
accidents/injuries/ fatalities, and the number of violations; by April 1, 2023, and
April 1, 2028, to include any recommended changes to improve boating safety; and
delete provision issuing rental vessel operator cards.


Existing law:

1. Prohibits the operation or navigation of a for-hire vessel, as defined, in the
waters of California while carrying passengers, except by a person who holds a
valid operators license issued by the Division. Under existing law, a person
applying for an operators license is required to undergo an examination that
may include, among other things, and inspection of the for-hire vessel.

2. Requires the Division to approve boating safety courses and personal
watercraft education courses, as specified.

This bill:

1. Requires the Division to develop a vessel operator card to be issued on or
before January 1, 2018.

2. Requires that the program developed or approved by the Division shall be
consistent with national boating education standards and include basic vessel
operations, rules of navigation, and boating safety.

3. States that the vessel operator card will be good for the lifetime of the operator.

4. States that the vessel operator card requirement would phase-in by age group
starting with those under 20 years of age by January 1, 2018, and
encompassing all operators by January 1, 2025.

SB 941
Page 3

5. Requires the Division to establish fees, in consultation with a technical
advisory group, which are sufficient to cover but not exceed the reasonable
costs of the development, establishment and operation of the program.
Requires the Division to charge a fee not to exceed $30 for the initial vessel
operator card issued and a fee not to exceed $10 for a duplicate vessel card.
Requires the fees to be deposited in the newly-created Vessel Operator
Certification Account (VOCA).

6. Specifies that up to a $4 million loan from the Harbors and Watercraft
Revolving Fund (HWRF) shall be used to establish the program and the
Division has eight years from the effective date of this bill to repay it.

7. Authorizes the Division to develop and provide a vessel operator examination
on the Divisions Internet Web site. Requires the Division to provide links
from the Divisions Internet Web site to other vessel operator examinations
approved by the Division that are available through a provider whose course
has been approved by the National Association of State Boating Law

8. Specifies that violations are an infraction and the violators are required to
complete and pass a boating safety course.

9. Requires, on or before April 1, 2019, and on or before April 1 annually
thereafter, the Division to prepare a report that includes all of the following
information with respect to the prior calendar year:

A. The total number of vessel operator cards issued pursuant to this bill.

B. The fees collected, and the cost incurred, by the Division pursuant to
this bill.

C. The correlation between vessel operator cards issued and the number
of accidents, injuries, and fatalities related to the operation of vessels
in the state that are reported.

D. The number of violations of this bill reported to the Division.

10. Requires the report to be posted on the Divisions Internet Web site.

11. Authorizes residents of other states or countries who meet the requirements to
operate recreational vessels in those states or countries and are temporarily
SB 941
Page 4

operating vessels in California waters, and others who meet certain conditions,
to operate recreational vessels with engines without possessing vessel operator
cards issued in California.

12. Requires the Division to annually report on its Internet Web site the number of
cards issued, fee collections, administrative costs, the correlation between card
issuance and boating accidents/injuries/ fatalities, and the number of violations,
and by April 1, 2023, and April 1, 2028, to include any recommended changes
to improve boating safety.


It is the policy of the state to promote boating safety. The Division, now part of
the Department of Parks and Recreation, regulates the operation of vessels in the
states inland and coastal waterways. Under existing law, no one may operate a
for-hire vessel that can carry passengers without a valid operators license.
Additionally, the Division serves approximately four million recreational boaters
statewide who operate approximately 2.6 million recreational boats. The Division
estimates that recreational boating annually contributes several billion dollars to
the states economy.

The Division recommends that a boating safety class be taken prior to boating and
provides links to numerous approved courses available both on and offline. From
2011-2013, approximately 3,000 California boaters participated annually in some
form of boating safety course. Persons convicted of certain offenses while boating
(e.g. an alcohol or drug offense or moving violation) are required by the court to
take and pass one of these approved courses.

From 2001-2012, there have been approximately 730 accidents (range 473-973)
and 407 injuries (range 247-502) from recreational boating on average each year.
While the total number of accidents appears to have fallen steadily since 2007, the
number of fatalities from recreational boating has remained at about 50 per year for
the 2001-2012 time period. Alcohol is involved in about 50% of all recreational
boating fatalities. Most accidents occur on a summer weekend in the early to late
afternoon, although accidents can and do occur year round on any day of the week
and at any time of day. Most accidents involve a collision with another vessel.
From 2010-2012, operator inattention was the most typical cause of accidents
(about 36%) followed by excessive speed (about 21%) and operator inexperience
(about 20%).

SB 941
Page 5

Almost all vessel operators involved in recreational boating accidents in California
have had little-to-no formal boater education. In only about 10% of reported
accidents is an operator involved who has taken a formal boater safety training
course. Nationwide, about 80% of all boating deaths due to accidents involve an
operator who has not completed a boating safety education course.

FISCAL EFFECT: Appropriation: No Fiscal Com.: Yes Local: Yes

According to the Senate Appropriations Committee:
One-time cost of $4 million from the HWRF (Special Fund) for a loan to the
VOCA in 2015, with likely repayments beginning in 2023.
One-time costs of $2.3 million from the VOCA (Special) for FY 2015-16 to
the Division for the creation of the vessel operator card.
Unknown ongoing costs of at least $3.9 million from the VOCA (Special)
beginning in FY 2016-17 for the Division to issue vessel operator cards with a
potential significant drop in costs after 2025.
Unknown ongoing revenues, likely in the low millions of dollars to the VOCA
(Special) beginning in 2017 from vessel operator card fees with a potential
significant drop in revenues after 2025.

SUPPORT: (Verified 5/20/14)
California State Sheriffs Association
California Yacht Brokers Association
Marina Recreation Association
Mayor Jerry B. Edelen, City of Del Rey Oaks
National Boating Federation
National Marine Manufacturers Association
Recreational Boaters of California
Tahoe Community Sailing Foundation, Inc.
United States Life-Saving Association
Western Boaters Safety Group

ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT: According to the authors, Due to the large
number of vessels and boating families in the state, it is important to minimize
personal injury, loss of life, and property damage associated with recreational
boating when vessels are operated improperly.

SB 941
Page 6

They continue California has enacted numerous laws and programs addressing
and enhancing vessel operator safety and education throughout the years, yet it
remains one of only six states that do not require individuals to take a boating
safety course before operating a vessel. [] In a study of best practices in boating
education conducted by the National Association of State Boating Law
Administrators in 2006, it found that states with the longest history of boating
education requirements also had lower incidents of boating accidents. SB 941 will
enhance safety on the states waterways by ensuring that operators of engine-
propelled vessels pass a vessel operator examination approved by the [Division].

According to the California Yacht Brokers Association and others, SB 941 is a
good example of stakeholders working with policy makers in a cooperative fashion
to craft the best legislation possible. [] SB 941 strikes a good balance between
ensuring that vessel operators are sufficiently educated about boating safety and
vessel operation without imposing an excessive burden that could serve as a barrier
to entry and harm this critical aspect of our states economy.

ASSEMBLY FLOOR: 51-25, 8/20/14
AYES: Alejo, Ammiano, Bloom, Bocanegra, Bonilla, Bonta, Bradford, Brown,
Buchanan, Ian Calderon, Campos, Chau, Chesbro, Cooley, Dababneh, Daly,
Dickinson, Fong, Fox, Frazier, Garcia, Gomez, Gonzalez, Gordon, Hall, Roger
Hernndez, Holden, Jones-Sawyer, Levine, Lowenthal, Medina, Mullin,
Muratsuchi, Nazarian, Pan, Perea, John A. Prez, V. Manuel Prez, Quirk,
Rendon, Ridley-Thomas, Rodriguez, Salas, Skinner, Stone, Ting, Weber,
Wieckowski, Williams, Yamada, Atkins
NOES: Allen, Bigelow, Chvez, Conway, Dahle, Donnelly, Beth Gaines, Gatto,
Gorell, Gray, Hagman, Harkey, Jones, Linder, Logue, Maienschein, Mansoor,
Melendez, Nestande, Olsen, Patterson, Quirk-Silva, Wagner, Waldron, Wilk
NO VOTE RECORDED: Achadjian, Eggman, Grove, Vacancy

RM:d 8/20/14 Senate Floor Analyses
**** END ****