"Our state's law enforcement officers have expressed serious concerns that removing the common-sense safety measures contained in 306.126, RSMo. would directly lead to more injuries and deaths on Missouri's larger waterways where more boats operate in dangerous water conditions,” the governor said.

A Missouri Senate bill that could have had a serious impact on water safety was vetoed by Governor Eric Greitens as the deadline for enacting bills drew to a close.

Greitens vetoed SB 65 which removed guidelines for railings lifting restrictions that prohibit passengers on boats from riding on the bow and gunnel.

“To paint a picture, this bill would allow two children to ride on an open bow of a speedboat traveling in excess of 40 mph on any body of water, including Lake of the Ozarks,” Greitens said in his veto message. “Senate Bill 65, allows anyone, including children to ride or sit on gunwales, decking over the bow, top of back seat or decking over the back of a motorboat without adequate guards or railings.”

The bill had managed to make it through the House and Senate without any opposition. It wasn’t until the bill was sent to the governor that questions were raised about the wording and safety implications if SB 65 was implemented.

Lake area state representatives had voted in favor of the legislation but in recent weeks while the bill was awaiting action by the governor, came out in opposition to the bill.

Greitens said while he respects the intentions of the sponsors of Senate Bill 65 and like them, he wants to make Missouri a safe place for people to enjoy waterways and outdoor recreational activities.

The intent of the bill was to exempt small boats that travel at low speeds on slow moving float streams from the provision that prohibits passengers from the bow and other areas of a boat.

The final language contained in this bill, however, may have had unintended consequences, he said.

“Since this legislation passed, I have spoken with members of the Missouri State Highway Patrol responsible for public safety on Missouri's waterways. Last year, they issued more than 900 warnings or citations for the failure to comply with section 306.126, RSMo. The majority of the warnings or citations occurred at the Lake of the Ozarks, which the United States Coast Guard has consistently ranked as one of the most dangerous waterways in the country."

"Our state's law enforcement officers have expressed serious concerns that removing the common-sense safety measures contained in 306.126, RSMo. would directly lead to more injuries and deaths on Missouri's larger waterways where more boats operate in dangerous water conditions,” the governor said.

The legislature should have had — but did not have — the benefit of the testimony referenced above as this bill moved through the process, and, according to Greitens, he understands that many legislators were not made aware of these public safety concerns.

While he appreciates that on certain waterways lawmakers may want to revise current law, he believes that can be done in a way that enhances individual liberty and personal responsibility while still protecting public safety.

SB 65 did not meet that criteria. SB 65 was the fourth attempt to get similar legislation passed. Bills in 2016, 2015 AND 2014 died in the legislature.

A number of boating safety advocates and the Missouri Department of Public Safety shared safety concerns with the governor prior to the veto.

For almost 50 years, Missouri law has required the public safety measure that this bill would have overturned. According to data collected by the United States Coast Guard, falls overboard are the leading cause of death on Missouri waterways, and open motorboats — by far — cause the most injuries and deaths.

From 2005 to 2016, 57 deaths and 95 injuries attributable to falls overboard occurred on Missouri waterways. Missouri's neighboring states have also put in place this common-sense protection.

“Going forward, I am committed to working with the sponsors of this legislation to achieve our mutual goals of enacting measures that provide common-sense protections for boaters, while at the same time maximizing enjoyment of our beautiful lakes and streams. I cannot, however, add my endorsement to this bill in its current form,” Greitens said.

“I respect the intentions of the sponsors of Senate Bill No. 65. Like them, I want to make Missouri a safe place for people to enjoy our many waterways and outdoor recreational activities. I also understand that one purpose of this bill may have been to exempt small boats that travel at low speeds on slow moving float streams from the provisions that prohibit passengers from riding on certain areas of the boat. The final language contained in this bill, however, may have unintended consequences.”