The governor, who came to Ohio for the annual “Fish Ohio” event, signed House Bill 29 by state Rep. Rex Damschroder, R-Fremont. The measure prohibits state and local law enforcement officers from boarding boats unless they have a reason.
Damschroder, who said he has received many complaints from recreational boaters about being harassed when they’ve done nothing wrong, said his measure simply adopts the same standard for boats on Lake Erie that applies to motorists who are driving on Ohio’s roads. When officers are patrolling the street, they have to have a reason to pull you over, he said. He said officers can still board boats if they see evidence of drinking or unsafe behavior.
Kasich signed the bill at the Lake Erie Shores and Islands visitor center on Ohio 53 in Ottawa County after participating in Fish Ohio. The governor said he wants people to enjoy themselves when they are out on the lake. “If you’re acting irresponsibly, we’re going to crack down on you. We want boating safety,” the governor said. Kasich acknowledged that his bill doesn’t apply to federal agencies such as the Coast Guard, which has been issuing citations for drunken boating on Lake Erie. State officials “need to aggressively communicate with our partners in the federal government,” Kasich said.
The governor bragged that he caught two fish during Fish Ohio, an annual event in Ottawa County that takes state officials out fishing to promote northern Ohio’s fishing industry. He also said he plans to visit Stone Laboratory.
Rick Unger, president of the Lake Erie Charter Boat Association, said Kasich met with charter boat captains when he was running for governor and promised to stay in touch with them. He’s kept that promise, Unger said. The governor said he has been visiting the lake since he was a child and talked about efforts his administration has taken to battle harmful algal blooms.
“This lake, it might be the greatest asset we have in the state of Ohio, other than the people,” he said.