A bill passed by the Missouri legislature will impact boaters on Lake of the Ozarks and other waterways once it’s signed by the governor or automatically goes into effect.

House Bill 2116, introduced by Rep. Robert Ross (R-District 142) was passed by the Missouri House and Senate. The original bill was aimed at exempting certain types of vessels from provisions prohibiting passengers from riding in certain areas of a motorized boat. Specifically the exemption applied to certain vessels propelled by outboard jet motors operating on non-impounded waterways from the passenger seating, guard and rail provisions. 

The legislation was amended to include portions of HB 1591,  introduced by Rep. David Wood (R-District 58). The portions of Wood’s bill included in the amended version of HB 2116 reduce certain fines and address no wake provisions in certain coves for boats 40’ long or larger. 

The bill reduces violations of lifejacket and no-wake regulations to infractions with fines of $25, doing away with the assessment of court costs. Currently a citation for lifejackets or no-wake violations is over $100. 

The goal is to encourage citations  for lifejacket and no-wake violations that are reasonable as a way to make it less of a financial burden and more of a boater education effort to emphasize the importance of having lifejackets on board and reducing speeds in no-wake areas, such as within 100 feet of a dock.  

The amendment included a provision that will also allow the Water Division of the Missouri State Highway Patrol to develop rules concerning coves that are 800 feet or less at the junction to the main channel so that the residents may apply for a no-wake cove designation. The no-wake in the larger coves will only apply to boats over 40 feet in length. A no-wake petition of property owners within the cover would be required to be submitted to the water patrol division for approval. 

This measure would leave action up to neighborhoods, providing an option to protect within coves which are typically more residential while leaving the main channel wide open.