Unhappiness abounds over AIS training, decal requirement

Some people are crying foul about a law set to go into effect in 2015 that requires people who transport boats or other water-related equipment on trailers to take an AIS training course and display a decal on their trailer.

It’s been a hot topic the past few weeks. We’ve received several letters to the editor about it, and I’ve fielded a handful of phone calls. Nobody from whom I’ve heard has been in support of the new requirements, and most seem to be of the belief it’s a money-making scheme the DNR concocted and sprung on an unsuspecting public.

That’s not exactly the case. While we can question the merits of the program, it’s important to remember that it didn’t just come out of nowhere.

While the concept’s roots can be found in the 2011 legislative session, the requirements coming on-line in 2015 are the result of laws passed in 2012.

The original bills are HF 2242 and SF 1928. Rep. John Ward, DFL-Baxter – who’s no longer in the House – Sen. Tom Saxhaug, DFL-Grand Rapids, carried those bills.

Those bills then were rolled into much larger policy bills – HF 2164 and SF 1830. Rep. Denny McNamara, R-Hastings, and Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, carried those bills. 

Both the House and Senate ultimately approved HF 2164, and Gov. Mark Dayton signed the bill into law on May 3, 2012.

The most current information regarding the new law and what boaters need to do is on the DNR’s website. The specific page is here.

A necessary program?

I still recall the day in 2012 when I first learned of the legislation proposing that every single person who tows water-related equipment in Minnesota (including people just traveling through) would have to go through aquatic invasive species training. I didn’t think there was any way something like that would pass. But it did, and here we are.

I think a large part of people’s frustration is the relative lack of information that exists. While the decals don’t have to be displayed on trailers until July 1, 2015, the training is available beginning in January. People have to take the training and get a new decal every three years, but it still remains unclear how much it will cost. On the evening of Dec. 30, the DNR website still said this: “Costs of online training and paper home-study course are being determined and will be posted as soon as possible.”

Additionally, resort owners and others are concerned because even people coming in from out of the state – even if they’re not launching a boat in Minnesota – have to take the training and display the decal.

It’s going to be interesting to see how this unfolds over the coming weeks and months. 

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