Good afternoon and welcome. We're going to hear one bill today for discussion only. Before we get into that, I will recognize our pages and sergeant at arms staff. Our pages are Courtney Baptiste, Chapel Hill Senator ?? Welcome. ?? Senator Bruntstetter. Alec Harvin Gastonia Senator Harrington. Hailey Ashley, Burlington, Senator Gunn. ?? Burlington, Senator Gunn. Sergeant at arms staff Anderson Meadows, Justin Owens, Steve Wilson, and Ed Kessler. Now that we have that out of the way, we're going to discuss increased funding for dredging today. Senator Brown. And I understand we have a PCS. [SPEAKER CHANGES] We do. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Motion to hear the PCS by Senator Wade. All those in favor say aye. Opposed. Motion carried. Senator Brown. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you Mr. Chairman. It's always good to have a bill that everybody likes, you know? [LAUGHTER] First I think we need to start with a little history. For many years, the federal government pretty much took care and paid for most of the dredging that took place on the coast of North Carolina. Well in the past few years, with some of their budget problems in Washington, dredging dollars for the coast have pretty much gone away, except for the two ports that the federal dollars continue to help keep dredged. But all the other shallow draft inlets across the state of North Carolina, those dollars have pretty much gone away. And I don't think I have to tell anyone that the coast of North Carolina is pretty unique compared to most other coasts. We have probably more, I think we do have more shallow draft inlets than any other state in the nation. And of course, what they mean to the economy on the coast, if you live on the coast, I think you truly understand that because here in about a month or so, if you'll get on Interstate 40 on a Friday afternoon, and see all the traffic that's heading toward the coast, I think you'll understand exactly what I'm talking about. And probably about of all those vehicles, probably a fourth of them have a boat tied to the back of it. And they're heading to the coast to take advantage of the waters there on the coast, and do a lot of fishing or water skiing or whatever it may be. Well, with those federal dollars drying up on the coast to keep these inlets dredged, what that means over time, and there are several inlets that are pretty close to this point now, those inlets start to fill in. And when they start to fill in, what you'll find is the Coast Guard will start to pull buoys that mark these channels. I know in ?? it's my understanding the outside channel in ?? was recently pulled if I'm not mistaken. So as you pull these buoys, then all of a sudden if you want a dangerous situation, try to go through an inlet that's not marked, or shallow, and I tell you, you won't put yourself in a more dangerous situation than being in that inlet. A lot of people get, have boats turn over and drown in inlets than any other place on the water. So that'll tell you how important it is to have these inlets marked and dredged and taken care of. With those dollars going away, I felt like we had to find a revenue source to take care of these inlets. I've had a lot of emails just like I'm sure you have, talking about how these fee increases aren't fair, and that you know, why should if I don't live on the coast why should I be paying for projects on the coast, and I think we've all heard them. I would argue that those waters are everybody's waters. And again, if you get on Interstate 40 in the summer, you'll see how many boats are headed to the coast to take advantage of it. And it's a lot, I can assure you. And what they don't tell you when they send you those emails is that a lot of this money is being used throughout the state for boat access in all the lakes and rivers throughout the state of North Carolina. Well that stays in place. The bill states that 50% of those dollars will remain in place to do just that. Continue to take your boat access in other lakes and rivers throughout the state, while the other 50% will go toward dredging. So all the state will benefit from these dollars. Now it's not hurting any part of the state. It's just helping the coast with an issue that I think
It's important to the economy on the coast, what it means for tourism dollars on the coast, and I think what it means for safety on the coast. The other issue that everybody is, seem to want to talk about is that the recreational fishing industry is gonna pay more than the commercial guys. Well, the PCS takes care of that. When I recently drafted the bill, I didn’t realize it was in a different statute. We didn't take care of it, but the PCS does take care of it. Where commercial vessels will pay the same thing as a recreational boat if they register their boat in North Carolina. What I tried to do is come up with a revenue source that would generate somewhere in that 6 million dollar range to dredge the inlets of North Carolina. And I know Tom Reader's here today, and I think Tom probably can tell you more about dredging than anybody else can, but that's probably a minimum that we're gonna need to probably take care of this issue. And I looked at all kinds of revenue sources to try to figure out how to pay for this and I couldn't figure out a better way to do it than the way that I drafted this bill. A lot of people have talked about taking it out of highway trust fund or out of transportation, and I don't think I've got to tell anybody here that those dollars are scarce as it is. We're what, we're about 70, 80 billion dollars short of dollars we need to take care of our roads, so I don't know that that's the place to go get the money. So it almost has to be a user fee to find the money needed to take care of these dredging issues in the state. I can go over the fee structure. I think ya'll have all read it. What it does basically is for a 14 foot boat or less, it doesn't change, it's still $15 which is in place today. It does take care of the piece where if you buy three years in advance, you used to get a five dollar break. That takes that break away. I think being able to buy three years in advance is a break in my opinion, so you can go ahead and can get three years of registrations out of the way at one time for a $45 fee if you have a 14 foot or less. If you have a 15 footer to 19 footer that fee goes to $25 a year, or $75 for three years. I think that's a pretty reasonable fee. That's $10 more a year basically for a boat to be registered if it's under 20 feet. For a 20 footer to a 26 footer, it goes to $50 a year, and then from a 27 footer to a 40 footer it's $100 a year, and then for a 40 footer and above, it's $150 a year. And the reason I've scaled it that way is I feel the bigger the boat, the more you're probably gonna use an inlet. And it becomes more of a user fee. Again I can't stress that it seems to me like this has become why do I take care of the coast issue. Well, I guess we could say, well why should people on the coast pay for something that may be good for the mountains or another part of the state? I mean we could argue that up here every single day if you want to, and I think there's not a person in this room that can't think of a project that may be in a different section of the state that everybody pays for across the state that benefits that particular area in the state. That happens every day. So I just think that's a poor argument, personally. Plus I think the coast is a place that everybody takes advantage of. Again, if you're down there, probably starting in a few weeks until the end of August, I don't think I have to tell you how many people go to the coast to take advantage of the activities that are there, and a lot of those are boating activities and they're important to those people that do come to the coast. One other thing, if these inlets do close up, I can't tell you what it would probably cost the taxpayer in a different way. Because I can tell you, if those dollars go away on the coast, somebody's gonna find a different way to find those revenues, and those tourism dollars will go away if these inlets close up. So it is important to the coast and it will cost the state in a different way in my opinion. Again, just looking at the bill, you see what it does, still half the money goes to the rest, to all of the state as far as vote access goes. About half the money will go to dredging. It all
So it increases the title fee from 20 dollars to 30 dollars. That fee hadn't been increased in about 30 years I think. I think I've pretty much touched the bill and I'll sure try to answer any questions but that's pretty much what the bill does. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you Senator Brown. Questions from the committee? Senator Cook. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you for bringing this bill. You draw attention to an issue that's surely, surely needs this. Those inlets are critical to, I believe, the whole state. If you don't have those inlets it turns the bay into one big swamp with polluted water. Your goal is admirable. The problem that a lot of folks have with the bill as it stands now, at least the emails I get, is that the fees are too high. And I, like you, looked in. I had some calculations made. Different revenue sources. I can't find anything either. Although maybe some general funder propitiation wherein you don't hit somebody pretty hard. So I don't know if there is it, and maybe somebody here hopefully has a better answer but so far I haven't been able to find one. However, here's my best shot at it. I don't know if you've considered this, you probably have. What if you did, instead of hitting them all at one time, say phased in this increase so that folks who are so upset about the high increases and some of the increases percentage-wise are very high. We're looking at 1000 percent or more. People ?? log those percentages left and right. It's still not a lot of money, but the percentages sound big. So, all that to say, I would propose and ask you if you'd considered phasing in these increases so that maybe Year 1 you get maybe a quarter of the increase and Year 2 you get another quarter and so forth or something, so that people aren't hit a big increase at one time. Just a thought. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Senator Cook, I appreciate that. One other thing I probably ought to mention real quick too that I didn't mention is also these dollars are dollar for dollar match dollars. So the communities on the coast are going to have to match these dollars to get the money. So a community on the coast that needs these ?? dollars are going to have to come up with like money in their communities as well. So there's going to be some ?? game for people on the coast as far as finding those dollars. Senator Cook I understand what you're saying as far as that goes but from 15 dollars to 25 dollars if you want to put that as a percent increase I guess you can say that's a pretty big percent increase. But I look at it as a 10 dollar increase. If we want to talk about percent increases let's look at what happened at ?? insurance on the coast. When you look at a 19% increase based on a 2500 dollar premium compared to a 5% increase based on a 500 dollar premium, who's paying the most? You know, the coast is getting hammered on that and you don't know what percentages mean when we talk about that. In my opinion I think the percentages are being skewed because of the dollar amount. If we were talking about large amounts of dollars then I think percentages could come into play but to me we're not asking a lot, I think, for a user. If you've got a 20 footer to a 27 footer and it's a 50 dollar a year increase you can't put 10 dollars worth of gas in that boat for that. And I ain't going to tell you what those boats will take and yet that's the very person that wants to use that inlet going in and out of it every single weekend to fish. It just, to me, it's a poor argument in my opinion. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you Senator Brown. Senator Hise. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you Mr. Chairman. First question I have is kind of looking at this by boat size and not having much experience in boats coming forward. Can you tell me, what for example, you would say and average bass boat or those types of things to used in lakes and others - what kind of size is it looking toward compared to a size of a boat that would typically do on inlets. Are those the same or are they different? Those types of things. [SPEAKER CHANGES] I know Dick Hamilton is here. He might answer this better than I can or someone from wildlife can. I'd say your average bass boat is a 20 footer or less. 18 to 20 feet. It's going to be a typical bass boat probably. I think that's gonna be pretty close. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Follow up. [SPEAKER CHANGES] A follow up question I have, and this probably has more to do with the
fiscal memo that’s attached to the bill, but the bill has an effective date of July 1st 2013. What is the assumptions in this as to if you put a July 1st hard date say mid-June, what’s your expectation for how many boat owners in the state of North Carolina are going to go purchase the three-year permit under the old and make it to where it’s three years out kind of before they move, as compared to making it when effective? [SPEAKER CHANGES] I’m sure that’s going to happen, but most people, to be honest, it’s kind of like your… Do you get your car inspected, and until it’s expired, you don’t realize it’s time? I think that’s the case for most people in this situation, but you’re always going to have some who would take advantage of it. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you. Senator Ron Rabin. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you. I think you said, if I’m not mistaken, that the ?? [SPEAKER CHANGES] I know the titling fee; it’s been a long time. Jeff might can answer this better. As far as the registration fees, it’s also been a while, but I can’t remember that exact date. [SPEAKER CHANGES] If it’s been any significant time at all, it’s not really an increase because you’re talking ?? dollars instead of ?? dollars, and if you crank in inflation and what it costs now, it’s kind of a wash I bet you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you, Senator Rabin. Senator Tillman. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Chairman, thank you. Senator Brown, I’m looking at the fiscal note here, and I noticed you mentioned this would net about 6 million dollars for the dredging that we need in a fund, and you and I know that we do a complete job now – we need 30 million or more, but this is a good start. I see it’s going to bring in 12.9 million in a couple of years, 10 million in the current 13-14 year. When you say that it’s going to net us 6 million or so, are you deducting the temporary positions or the positions which are to be hired, or where are we getting 6 million? I see 10 million right away, so… [SPEAKER CHANGES] Senator Tillman, only half of that money can be used toward dredging. That’s how much the fee increase will generate, or how much it will create total in the pot. Half of that still goes to boat access across the state. [SPEAKER CHANGES] I got you. I got you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Senator Daniel. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Senator Brown, I just wanted to clarify; does this still maintain the exemption for non-motorized boats that’s in current law, as far as registration fees? [SPEAKER CHANGES] I know there is an issue on the sail boat, and I may ask – [SPEAKER CHANGES] I’m just meaning kayaks and canoes. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes, it does on kayaks and canoes. Yes. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you, sir. Senator Allran. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Senator Brown, I am really familiar with your issue, the need for the dredging and all that on the coast, having been a landowner there for many year and a great appreciator of the coast, even though I’m from the foothills in the west, but I have gotten lots and lots of people very opposed to this from around the area where I live, and their contention is their boats are not going to go off of the lakes where we live to the coast, and I believe that. If you’ve got a boat on Lake Norman or Lake Hickory, you will not be driving it down I-40 to get out there. My question is, why don’t we have a fee, and maybe a bigger fee, on boats when the votes are registered in the counties that are affected, as opposed to the counties way out in the west which quite frankly are irrelevant to all of this? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Senator Allran, I think the best way I could answer that is if I’m not mistaken, I think federal dollars help with the Blue Ridge Parkway, and if those federal dollars went away, should I on the coast help pay to keep the Blue Ridge Parkway up, through any kind of dollars? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Well our tax dollars keep up the state parks at Fort Macon and Fort Fisher and all the other parks down east, so we already do all that, but this is a different thing. This is putting a tax on boats that do not go out of a geographic area. [SPEAKER CHANGES] And I’d argue that Blue Ridge Parkway’s not on the coast, and if that was a situation that could happen, and that could happen, the way federal dollars are being cut, and my argument would be that still half of these dollars would go toward boat access for those very lakes. [SPEAKER CHANGES] But Fort Fisher and Fort Macon don’t go to the mountains either but we pay to keep those up, so the state parks issue to me doesn’t cut it because there’s state parks everywhere and federal parks everywhere.
Wherein everybody shares that burden. We're talking about boats that move. [SPEAKER CHANGES] I'm talking about a parkway that a park's not on. If you wanna compare what could happen. I'm talking, it's the same thing. We could talk about the beltway around Raleigh. It doesn't benefit me necessarily from the coast, but my tax dollars help pay for it. There's a lot of things across the state that things don't pay for that benefit the coast. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Let me ask you again. Why are you not putting the tax on the boats of the people who live in the counties that are affected as opposed to putting the tax on the boats of the people who live in the counties that are not affected? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Senator Allran, several boats, all the boats on the coast, pretty much, will be taxed, or increased on this fee like anybody else. But for you to say that someone from Catawba County doesn't come to the coast and use those inlets, I think's wrong. That's not ?? [SPEAKER CHANGES] I didn't say that. I just told you I do do that. But I don't take my boat from Lake Hickory out there, and neither does anybody else. [SPEAKER CHANGES] But I think you do use them. That's the point, I think. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Senator Sanderson, excuse me. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you mister chairman. I don't think anybody in this room will argue the spirit of this bill, and, or argue against how important our shallow draft inlets are. In fact, it's incalculable. I don't think we can even put a price tag on what it brings in to not only Eastern North Carolina but also to the coffers of this state, because when tourist money is spent, when tourist dollars are spent, a lot of that money finds its way back. I've had conversations with probably a dozen marine operators in my district. There's a lot of folks in our state right now that find themselves, for lack of a better phrase, boat poor. They've got more boat then they would really like to have, but they're stuck with it. And I say that to say this, a lot of our marine operators, and this is just for food for thought, a lot of our marine operators are having a very, very difficult time now just collecting dock rental, and if we go and on a 35 foot sailboat, 35 foot motorboat, put for three years, a $450, from $45 to $450, a lot of these marinas don't know how the people are gonna make them. And I know that it doesn't seem like a whole lot of money on its face, but when people are already stretched to such a limit as they are now, it can be a lot of money. And so that's a concern of a lot of the people that service the boats. Another concern is that a lot of my folks think that they already pay money to keep our waterways open. It's been estimated that a minimum of 1% of the fuel that's used in the state of North Carolina is used in marine vessels, but out of that 1%, and that's the minimum amount, only 1/6th of 1% of the taxes that we pay in gas, for gas taxes, go to keeping our waterways. Folks feel like that if taxes are used, gas taxes are used to maintain our highways, then if we can estimate how much gas taxes are used for our waterways, that more of that money needs to go to help our waterways. Another thing that a lot of folks are concerned about is that when people buy boats, sales tax on boats, not any of it goes towards helping maintain the waterways. It all goes to the general funds. And so there's a lot of folks that feel like they're already paying this money. And then on top of that when you put local property taxes on it, and I'll be the first to admit that the counties don't chip in, under this they might have to chip in some, but as it is of today, they don't chip in anything to help these people utilize what they're paying these tax on, to be able to utilize. And so I just, in the interim before we come back, and I think we're gonna have another coastal committee meeting, talk about this too, if we can take a look at some of those other avenues to lessen the impact. A five dollar, a ten dollar, you know I think people might be able to swallow a whole lot better, but this is a huge increase. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Senator Sanderson, I understand exactly where you're going because I looked at those revenue sources, and this committee would like to support taking some of those dollars from transportation dollars, I'm all for that. I'll go for that right now. I just feel like that's a tough sale and, but I'm surely open to that and if somebody would like to figure out those dollars and run an amendment to do that, I'm surely open to that. Again
and I just can't tell you the pressure I think they're on transportation dollars. I just I had a concern there before going that route. And so you know I tried to make this as simple as I could. I tried to make it pretty much a user fee to a point and that's kind of why I got where I'm at. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you Senator Brown. Senator Rucho you have a comment. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Senator Brown I know this is not an immediate solution but if you remember our energy billl with we passed on. Unfortunately it got vetoed. But there was money set aside for the counties on the coast to utilize some of the royalty money that we had set aside specifically for their use in dredging so. At some piont there will be some money if we can ever convince them to let us get offshore. [SPEAKER CHANGES] I'll just respond real quick. Senator Rucho I agree with that. The issue we've got to handle today that I think is so important is this is an immediate problem. It's not a problem that we can wait two or three years to fix. I'm telling you this problem is a serious serious problem on the coast today. And everyday goes by it gets worse. And I don't know how to express that anymore than I'm trying to do that now, but if we don't find a fix this session what I'm afraid will happen and I feel pretty confident of this I'd love for Tom maybe to stand up and talk about this if he would. I'm convinced if you put this off another year or two you're gonna to have some inlets show up and pretty much have the buoys pulled. And you're gonna have a serious problem with that. Mr. Chairman I'd ask for Tom maybe to speak on that. I think he's very familiar with it. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes indeed. If you would please have, Tom if you'll identify yourself. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes sir I'm Tom Reeder. I'm the Director of North Carollina Juditional Water Resources and we're the state sponsor for Shallow Draft Inlet Drenching. What Senator Brown says is pretty much absolutely correct. We have about $2 million dollars left in carry forward money right now that we can use to keep inlets open probably through the end of this summer maybe the remainder of this calendar year but after that we're completely out of money. The feds are not gonna give us another cent for shallowdraft inlet dredging in North Carolina. They've made that abundantly clear. So what's gonna happen is the next time a storm comes through those inlets are gonna close. I mean they really can close just based on one powerful storm. So those inlets close a lot of charter fisherman lose their business because people don't want to drive the 60 minutes, or go travel in a boat the extra 60 or 40 minutes to get out to the ocean. It's really a pretty big catastrophy down there when this infrastructure we lose this infrastructure on the coast that we're so happily dependent upon. If we don't have a funding source by I would say certainly next spring we'd start losing this infrastructure for sure. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you Mr. Reeder. Senator Tucker. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you Mr. Chair. Senator Brown I know how passionate you are about this. You've talked to me about it on many occasions. I buy a hunting license every year but I don't hunt on Senator Walter's land down east. I hunt in one area. He won't let me. He won't let me. He says he doesn't allow republicans, he doesn't allow republicans on his land. I too, I too am boat poor. I took a 22 year old boat hunting a number of years ago and I still have that boat. I think I've seen it. I haven't seen it in two years but I still own a boat. I'm gonna still have to pay its fee. Senator Allran is never gonna see saltwater ever, but I tell you I spent enough time down on the coast growing up and living in Eastern North Carolina that if these inlets close we've got a real mess. And you know Harris come to the table and said yeah state but you gotta put up some money, but local communities you are too. So I know you've worked very hard trying to figure out a way to not charge folks more but I mean it's just the sign of times. We've gotta do something about this. Those people with the sailboats and the marina and renting those boats they can't go up. Those inlets can't run up and down the coast like they want to then they'e not gonna be renting any boats ??. I understand where all of y'all come from. It's a hard call and Harry struggled with this time and time again but you know, I'm just, you know, the western end of the state I'm gonna have to support you on this one. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you sir. Senator Woodard. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you Mr. Chairman. I just want to followup to Senator Daniels question. He was interested in canoeing some kayakes. Did we get an answer about sailboats? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Jeff I'm a ask you if you would on the sailboat side to make sure I get it right. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Certainly and if you look at the PCS
On page four it happens to have the exemptions from the numbering requirements that statute we had to pull in, it was one of the things that the bill does. There’s currently an exemption if you document your vessel under federal law, you don’t have to pay the fee. We removed that exemption to create and generate a little more money. If you look at the last two subdivisions of that exemption section on lines 26 and 27. That gets your sailboats that are below a certain number of feet in length and it also gets your canoes and your kayaks. Basically, your paddle vessels. Those exemptions still remain. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you sir. Senator Sanderson? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you Mr. Chair. On just a slightly different tangent, Senator Brown. It’s my understanding that the Corps of Engineers who really facilitate this shell draft inland dredging, only has one dredge that is still able to do that. It’s my understanding that they’re thinking about mothballing that one. That there is currently no, because of the permitting required and because of the way they have to be dredged, there is currently no private industry anywhere in the southeast that even does this kind of dredging. How are we going to get this done if the Corps of Engineers gets rid of the dredge and the state can’t get the permits to even run one like it? How are we going to dredge, get this dredging done? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Senator Sanderson, that’s a good question. There is a bill that is being worked on to address that very issue. We’re trying to figure out a way that we can work through the Corps to get permitting done in a different way where private entities can do some of this dredging. We think it will save the state some dollars long term. We’re working on that bill as we work on this one as well. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you sir. Senator Hise? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Senator, one of the questions I just had, and I don’t really have the information to ask it. Looking at these registrations, kind of across the state. Would you be open to something that looks at designating more of the percentage to those in coastal counties to this project? Versus so that we have individuals who are like James or others who can know that their funds are being designated towards activities they use which are in the coastal areas. I would suspect that a vast majority of these registrations are occurring in the coastal areas. For those, and it may be an easier way to break that down and get around saying whose paying for what. It’s just a thought I had. I guess my overall question is, can we get a breakdown of these registration numbers by county and see how that would…? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Senator Hise, my answer to that would be,.. I would argue at this point that the rest of the state has probably been at an advantage on the way these dollars have been allocated for a long time. Because of the lakes and the rivers where boat access has been taking place, I would say the coast has probably not gotten its fair share for a long time. Nobody complained about that. The way the bill is drafted, they’ll continue to get 50% of these dollars. We’ll continue to look at boat access all across the state. I think if you start carving out who wins, who loses on this a little bit, I think you muddy the bill up. Again, I think you can argue that for all kinds of projects across the state. I just don’t think that’s a…I just don’t think that’s they way we should go on this particular bill. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you Senator Brown. Senator Blue? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Question, Senator Brown, if I could. As I understand it, the 50% to the wildlife resources commission is an increase over what they use currently for these statewide projects. Access, safety, and all of those other issues. [SPEAKER CHANGES] I’m not sure of the exact percent. Jeff, you may help me on that. I think that’s pretty close, yes. [SPEAKER CHANGES] But, it is an increase on the funds available for that? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Let me just say this, Mr. Chairman, because I think that Senator Brown raises an issue that all of us need to think about. Sometimes a little more seriously than we do. That is we are one state regardless of whether we live in these three sections we learned when we were growing up and going to school in this state. Whether you’re in the pedmont, the coastal plains, or the mountains. The thing that makes this state what it is that we sort of throw away these regional labels when it’s for the good of the entire state. That’s the way I see a lot of the issues facing the coast. If this issue is as critical as Senator Brown indicates, then we all ought to be willing to fix it.
And do whatever is necessary to fix it, whether it's increasing these fees or simply increasing the funds available from the general fund assembly, but clearly we have a responsibility to the entire state. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you Senator Blue. I think this committee has pulled along this wagon of hay long enough, so we will, I'll accept, Senator Walters, would this have any effect on how you register your boat? I haven't heard from you. Oh. Thank you. Thank you for clearing that up, Senator Jenkins. Now, having, having heard that we will ask of there are any members of the public that would like to weigh in. And if you would approach the podium please, turn the mic on, state your name, and if you would please limit your comments to two minutes, and germane to the bill. [SPEAKER CHANGES] My name is Jim Horton. I work with Grady-White Boats in Greenville, North Carolina. We understand and agree with the boaters and boat manufacturers and builders that we need safe inlets. I do think there are, it's a, it is a good large increase that boaters in general. And on one side they want to support it, on the other side they just think it's just a huge increase, and there may be some other avenues. I know there's been discussion about road use taxes paid by boaters for gasoline. There's also ?? taxes paid by diesel powered vessels. I think that's an avenue that could be explored. Maybe there's a marine to diesel fuel tax of a penny or two per gallon for diesel fuel pumped in marinas. I think there's other ways to try to get a little, little piece of money here and there and make this a little bit of a lower increase on boater registration fees alone. And I've been talking to boats US, which has 11,000 members in the state of North Carolina. They think the fee increase is too large, and they'd like to see, I think I can speak for them and say they'd like to see a little more creative looking around for other opportunities, and I would like to see the road use tax be dedicated that are paid by boaters in the gas stations, trailer-able boats are generally filled up at gas stations, I'd like to see more of that come back. The sportsmen, the anglers and the sportsmen of the country are used to a user pay, user benefit, and I think boaters are used to that too and are willing to do their share. But I think we need to look carefully at long term solutions that don't just throw a huge increase on boating registration fees and make our boats almost, or more expensive than any of the surrounding states. I think maybe Florida may be the only one that's not, that would still be more expensive than North Carolina if this change occurs. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you sir. Anyone else? Yes ma'am, who, please tell us all who you are? [SPEAKER CHANGES] My name is Connie. Hey there. My name is Connie Wilson. I'm the lobbyist for the North Carolina, the Topsail Shoreline Protection Commission, and I just want to thank the committee for this hearing today. This bill that Senator Brown has brought forth is critical for our small island. We're comprised of three little towns. You've got Topsail beach, and some of you may have been there. We've got Surf City, and then we've got North Topsail. They just have a few hundred citizens in each one of these small towns, yet they have this inlets that require dredging, sometimes every year. And that is extremely expensive. We've had help in the past from federal monies, where we also got state matching at 75%. What Senator Brown is doing here is much less then even we've gotten in the past. We're just talking here about a 50/50 match. For us, these inlets are like our roads. We appreciate the committee's kind consideration for these small towns along the coast that, because of where they're located, they have a very unusual asset that they have to maintain to keep their economy going. Thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you Ms. Wilson. Anyone else from the public. Okay, well then, Senator Meredith. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you mister chairman, and Senator Brown, thank you for bringing this forward and I might need to talk to you offline on this. I'm curious, and like I said, we might be able to talk, how the funds would be administered, who would decide what channel gets dredged, and then for the small towns, just like she brought up, a few hundred residents, I. If it's matching dollars that might be something we need to talk about. I'd be very interested in how this would be administered as this bill moves forward. Thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Okay, Thank you. Members of the committee, staff, sergeant in arms, et cetera. Pages, thank you all, this concludes our discussion today. Tomorrow, we will be discussing Senate bill 394. It will be discussion only. That is Senator Clodfelter's bill. Thank you all, meeting adjourned.