A bill sponsored by Sen. Chris Girdler that would limit law enforcement officials’ ability to stop or enter boats on the state’s waterways has passed the Senate.
Senate Bill 66, known as the “Boater Freedom Act,” states that law enforcement officials must have “reasonable and art-iculable suspicion” that the law is being broken to stop or enter upon a boat.
The bill would stop what Girdler said is the “harassment” that many boaters, tourists and some marina owners have experienced “at the hand of overzealous law enforcement.”
“Our tourists and boaters are not criminals,” said Girdler. “They are some of the hardest-working people you would ever find in your life. These people are simply trying to get away from the hustle and bustle of their everyday lives. Instead, they are being harassed and interrogated.”
Girdler said the bill does not negate the need for law enforcement officials, but simply clarifies their jurisdiction in stopping and searching boats on Kentucky’s waterways.
“We just want them to do what is right,” Girdler said. “If they see someone breaking the law, we want them to be stopped. We simply don't want officers to harass law-abiding citizens ...”
Girdler said he hopes SB 66 will help promote tourism and economic development on Kentucky's lakes and waterways. He also hopes it will also assist in addressing what many have expressed as a violation of their civil rights and private property rights.
The measure now heads to the House for consideration.