Rep. Norma Smith applauds signing of landmark derelict vessel legislation

Landmark legislation that will address the problem of derelict vessels that threaten the environment was signed into law today. Rep. Norma Smith, who played a leading role in drafting the bill, said it is important to the 10th District and a model for other states.

“This legislation is about keeping boats off of the bottom of our waters and protecting our environment. The goal is to prevent crises in our waterways,” said Smith, R-Clinton. “We have raised the bar for buyers and sellers of high-risk vessels, creating clear expectations. And we’ve lowered the cost of deconstruction to help owners do the right thing at the end of a vessel’s life cycle.”

House Bill 2457 will:

  • create new requirements on the sale of certain vessels;
  • establish a fee on commercial vessels required to be listed with the state Department of Revenue to fund the state’s Derelict Vessel Removal Program;
  • require certain insurance to be held by moorage facilities and moored vessels and certain information to be collected from moored vessels;
  • provide an exemption from the retail sales and use tax for vessel deconstruction activities; and
  • create new penalties for failure to register a vessel.

Smith’s legislative district includes all of Whidbey Island, where derelict vessels have caused problems. In between the 2013 and 2014 legislative sessions, Smith was part of a work group that held stakeholder meetings, gathered information and studied the issue.

“So many people from our communities played a role in this bill. Their stories and ideas helped shape the final outcome,” said Smith. “I believe this solution will be a model for other states that are looking to protect their waterways and avoid environmental disasters.”

This is not Smith’s first time tackling the issue of derelict vessels. She worked with Rep. Drew Hansen, D-Bainbridge Island, on House Bill 1245 last year. The legislation strengthened the state’s Derelict Vessel Removal Program, which is administered by the state Department of Natural Resources. You can find program guidelines here.

The 2014 legislative session ended on March 13. The 2015 legislative session will begin January 12, 2015.


Washington State House Republican Communications