Lawmakers seek to modify AIS training, decal law

Sen. Tom Saxhaug, DFL-Grand Rapids, will introduce legislation aimed at fixing a controversial law that goes into effect this year and requires anyone trailering water-related equipment in Minnesota to pass an aquatic invasive species test and display a decal as proof.

The law, which passed in 2012 and goes into effect July 1 this year, has been especially controversial at the Legislature. Bills in both the House and Senate would repeal the law, and the DNR has postponed the training program until lawmakers sort it out.

Saxhaug, if you recall authored the original bill in the Senate that mandated the training course and decal. It passed as part of a larger omnibus bill authored by Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria. 

“We know a lot of people in the state have done a lot of work educating people about AIS, including the DNR,” Saxhaug said. “So I don’t think we’re quite willing to just throw up our arms and say, ‘We’re not going to do any more educating.’ ”

Saxhaug’s bill hadn’t been introduced as of Thursday morning. But under the changes he’ll propose, enforcement of the AIS decal law would occur at public boat accesses (so people traveling through the state who don’t plan to launch their boat wouldn’t have to take the course). Failure to follow the law would be punishable by a warning until Jan. 1, 2017. After that, the punishment would be a $25 civil penalty.

His bill also will include two exemptions. One will be for people who already have a valid service provider permit. The other will be for people who launch their boat only in one water body. 

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