A Georgia bill requiring boat titles is likely dead for this year's General Assembly session, which ended last week, but it could return next year.
"We still need some additional work on the bill," said Sen. Butch Miller, R-Gainesville, on March 29. "We should hold the bill in committee, work with all interested parties and bring it back next year."
The bill, sponsored by Miller in the Senate and Rep. Ron Stephens, R-Savannah, in the House, says "no person shall operate or give permission for the operation" of any vessel unless it is properly titled.
Boat titles would help deter theft and "create equity and fairness for the selling of vessels by dealers, brokers, agents, private parties and manufacturers," the bill says.
The bill has been in the works for several years, pushed by Gainesville-based Lake Lanier Association.
A particular concern for the group is abandoned vessels and how to identify owners.
"Since the registration process doesn't have the same legal authority as a title, we are hindering the effectiveness of our law enforcement agencies to hold the responsible boat owner accountable," the association says in an information sheet.
LLA also has said that some lenders "are less willing to finance boat sales in a non-title state. That leaves fewer lenders willing to finance, which translates into less competition in this market and higher interest rates charged on boat loans to consumers."
The bill has had trouble advancing in the legislature in past years.
The association says that while most of its members support the bill, most of those polled in other areas of the state are opposed.
"Those who took the extra step to (say why they opposed) cited ‘big government' and new taxation as the primary (reasons)," the group said.
Joanna Cloud, LLA's executive director, said the bill crossing from the House, where it passed on March 1, to the Senate "is progress from previous attempts."
"The good news is that since we are in year one of a two-year cycle, (the bill) will stay alive for 2018," she said.