April 25, 2023
Governor Lee Signs Legislation to Limit TWRA's Permitting Authority to Use of Their Boat Ramps and Property
Today Governor Lee signed legislation backed by TPA which limits TWRA's permitting and regulatory authority to use of their boat ramps and property. In other words, you are not required to hold a TWRA permit or be subject to their rules, permits and procedures if you do not use TWRA access points.
The bill's provisions state:
- (1) The commission (TFWC) is authorized to establish rules, permits, and procedures regulating commercial operations that: (A) Lease or rent nonmotorized vessels for noncommercial use by the public on the waters of Tennessee; and (B) Utilize vessel launches or ramps, or other property, owned or managed by the agency.
- The bill also explicitly exempts operations with commercial use authorizations issued by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.
- For outfitters required to submit use data reports, the bill limits that reporting to one report on October 31st plus a supplement after that for any use occurring before January 1st.
- Use data in the reports for outfitters required to submit them are confidential and only subject to public release in the aggregate, which is the total use for each body of water.
- The bill takes effect immediately.
Rule-making for outfitters using TWRA access points will follow. Ironically, TWRA supported this bill after they realized the quagmire of conflicting authorities at the federal, state and local level that outfitters were operating under. This bill establishes clear authorities for use of their property. Kudos to the TWRA leadership for their understanding.
TPA's Executive Director David Brown has over 30 years of experience in permitting issues, which helped in fashioning a credible bill that cleared up these conflicting authorities. The bill passed the Senate and House with unanimous votes in each chamber because it was sensible and because the legislature respected the outfitters who were supporting it.
Special thanks to Courtney Atnip and Nick Crawford at Capitol and 5th Public Strategies for getting this bill through the legislature. And extra special thanks to members of TPA and those outfitters who made significant financial contributions to enable this campaign. Their foresight, intelligence and financial commitments are the foundation for this victory. Without it, this effort would never have gotten to first base.
TPA's mission in support of the industry continues. Please JOIN if you are not a member.