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updated: 6/3/2014 5:37 PM

Quinn to sign boating safety legislation

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  • Tony Borcia

      Tony Borcia

  • Julie Morrison

      Julie Morrison

 
By Zachary White
zwhite@dailyherald.com

Gov. Pat Quinn plans to sign into law a trio of boating safety proposals this summer, perhaps bringing to a close a suburban lawmaker's efforts on the issue two years after her nephew was hit and killed by a boat.

The legislation, inspired in part by the death of 10-year-old Tony Borcia of Libertyville, would allow for the seizure of a boat under some circumstances, require boaters to fly an orange flag while towing a water tuber or skier, and require that some boaters have safety training to operate a boat.

State Sen. Julie Morrison said she isn't sure whether she plans to continue her legislative efforts to make Illinois waterways safer.

The Deerfield Democrat held a hearing in Libertyville in August where many boaters argued they could make waterways safer without government intervention. Similar meetings were held throughout the state.

"I'm really pleased with the legislation we did get passed," Morrison said.

A spokesman for Gov. Pat Quinn said he'll sign the plans into law.

One plan, approved by lawmakers last week, would require some boat operators to have a safety certificate to use a motorboat on Illinois waterways. It would apply to boaters born in 1998 or later driving boats that had bigger than 10 horsepower engines.

Morrison said the plan was aimed at future boaters because it would make it easier for the Department of Natural Resources to administer certificates. Boat rental businesses would have to give an abbreviated version of a safety course.

However, boaters using an electric motor to propel the motorboat, a person operating a motorboat on private property, or someone with an out-of-state boating license equivalent, are exempt.

Also, earlier in May the House approved a plan that would allow the seizure of watercraft in some cases when a driver is intoxicated.

The third plan would require Illinois boaters to display an orange flag when they're towing a water tuber or skier. The flag would have to be at the highest point of the boat's helm.

Borcia, Morrison's nephew, was hit by another boater while being towed in the Chain O' Lakes. The driver of the other boat, David Hatyina, pleaded guilty last year to driving the boat while intoxicated. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

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