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Senate committee approves bills regarding fishing, boating and youth concussions

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Bills to promote recreational boating and fishing and to prevent concussions in youth sports passed a Senate committee. On Wednesday, April 9, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation approved the Sport Fish Restoration and Recreational Boating Safety Act of 2014 (S. 2028) and the Youth Sports Concussions Act (S. 1014).

The fishing bill would continue the the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund through FY 21. The fund collects about $500 million a year in excise taxes on motor boat fuel and fishing tackle and gives it to states to support fishing habitats and promote recreational boating safety. The law is set to expire in October.

Additionally, the bill would make some changes to the Federal Aid in Fish Restoration Act. It would give the National Boating Safety Advisory Council $200,000 a year. (Current law sunsets the council in 2020; this bill would extend it one more year.)

The Coast Guard would get an annual earmark of $7 million for grants to national non-profits for boating safety activities. The Coast Guard would get another $5 million to spend itself on boating safety programs. No similar bill is pending in the House.

Meanwhile, the concussions bill increases penalties for manufacturers of sporting equipment who make false claims as to its safety. The bill would give the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) authority to regulate such claims.

The bill also would authorize the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to study the issue and recommend whether the industry should adopt voluntary standards for equipment, including refurbished equipment; and warning labels.

If the industry does not develop voluntary standards within a year, CPSC could write rules to mandate them. States could also sue manufacturers and the FTC could support state actions.

A companion bill is pending before the House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing & Trade. It was introduced last May with no action yet.

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