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MRAA Supports Change in Recreational Boat Definition in Longshore Act

Wednesday, February 12, 2014   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Michael Geatz
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MRAA supports H.R. 3896, a bill introduced on January 16, 2014 by Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, to amend the Longshore and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act to provide a definition of recreational vessel that is a better and clearer application of the Longshore Act to marinas and insurance companies providing service work on recreational boats. There are seven co-sponsors so far. The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. No action has been scheduled by the Committee.

Several years ago, the boating industry united in supporting a revision to the Longshore Act to eliminate the need for marinas working on recreational boats to carry both state worker’s compensation and federal Longshore insurance on its workers. The Labor Department received 50 comments on definition of recreational boat during its rulemaking stage of that revision bill, but those recommendations were negated by the Department and went with the Title 46 definition, as amended by several other legal sources. Problems arose almost immediately with insurers saying the definition is too complicated and withdrew the sale of insurance. Longshore insurance generally costs about four times as much as worker’s compensation and for recreational marinas both would still be required.

The Labor Department has refused to re-open the Longshore rule saying an act of Congress is needed to make any change.

H.R. 3896 is a simple bill that defines recreational boat as 1.) a vessel being manufactured or operated primarily for pleasure, or 2.) leased, rented, or chartered to another for the latter’s pleasure. In addition, the bill says a vessel will be treated as a recreational vessel if it is a public vessel or a boat owned by the USA, a state, or political subdivision and is not normally engaged in the military or commercial industry.

No action has yet occurred on the bill.