A press release from the Illinois Boaters Association:
War on Illinois Boaters Continues… Senators Link & Morrison Propose Legislation to Dissolve the Fox Waterway Agency
Two Lake County Illinois Senators, Terry Link of Waukegan and Julie Morrison of Deerfield have sponsored a January 28, 2014 bill, SB 2696 which calls for the dissolution of the Fox Waterway Agency with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources immediately assuming control over the Chain O’Lakes waterway system located in Lake and McHenry counties and which is composed of fifteen lakes connected by the Fox River and various man made channels.
[That would eliminate the locally-elected Board of the Waterway Agency.]
The Chain O’Lakes encompasses over 7,100 acres of water, 45 miles of river, and boasts more than 488 miles of shoreline.
The Chain O’Lakes is the busiest inland recreational waterway per acre in the United States.
Since 1983, the Fox Waterway Agency, this locally elected and largely self-funded agency has served this dynamic and unique navigable waterway system.
The Illinois Boaters Association and its Political Action Committee, Boaters Are Voters takes extreme exception to this latest anti-boating proposed legislation and finds it distasteful, ignorant, and not at all in the best interests of any citizen of Illinois.
Passage of this legislation would destroy the Chain O’Lakes as a regional boating destination and would have an immediate, lasting, and wholly negative effect on the economy of Illinois.
Senator Julie Morrison, a freshman Senator came to Springfield with an anti-boating agenda due to the tragic loss of her nephew while the child was being towed through a channel on the Chain O’Lakes in a rental boat.
The intoxicated boater responsible was sentenced to 10 years in Illinois prison for his crime.
Morrison’s family, an exceedingly wealthy generation law firm has brought a civil suit against the boat driver, the boat passenger, the boat rental facility and even the Fox Waterway Agency.
On December 19, 2013, Judge James Murphy, a Kane county Judge who is presiding over the Lake County case, 12L961, dismissed the Fox Waterway as a Defendant with prejudice from the Borcia family lawsuit.
Dismissed with prejudice means that this case cannot be brought again against the Fox Waterway Agency.
The Borcia family civil lawsuit against the other defendants continues.
Senator Morrison’s War on Illinois Boating began with a flurry of ill conceived, illogical and potentially unconstitutional assaults on the Illinois boater last summer.
In SB 1478, Senator Morrison calls for 8 hours of safety training for any person born before 1990 prior to be allowed on anything that floats in Illinois.
In its original form, this bill would have prohibited kayaks, canoes and even inner-tubes use based solely on age in Illinois.
In SB 1805 Senator Morrison called for a flag to designate a boat was towing a skier or tuber.
Critical flaws with SB 1805 include that Morrison’s color of flag choice directly contradicts the international and national safety colors and would designate a boat in distress to any knowledgeable captain, not a boat towing persons.
In SB 1477, Senator Morrison proposes legislation to link a boating while under the influence conviction with a suspension of an Illinois Driver’s License.
One does not need an Illinois Driver’s License to operate a boat and this proposed legislation links one criminal act with an unrelated civil penalty and creates a legal slippery slope in Illinois.
Powerful Senator Terry Link, who has served his Lake Michigan shoreline Waukegan area district since 1996 has a history of disdain for the Illinois voter. He has actively voted to disenfranchise the local control of elections.
Senator Link was the only Lake County state official to vote in support of HB 2418.
This bill, which went on to become law only to be overturned as being unconstitutional by the Illinois Courts sought to take away election oversight powers from the elected Lake County Clerk.
Senator Link recently lost a primary election contest in 2013 when he sought to double dip as simultaneous Illinois State Senator and Mayor of Waukegan.
The Fox Waterway Agency is led by locally elected Illinois citizens.
Senators Link and Morrison seek to remove local control of this unit of government and to punish Illinois boaters as well all just to consolidate more power in Springfield. The Fox Waterway Agency is largely self-sufficient; paying it is bills through waterway usage fees and profits off its active dredging operations.
The Illinois Boaters Association and Boater for Boaters PAC question why a self-supporting, locally elected and controlled unit of government would be so unfairly targeted when Illinois has the worst credit rating of any state in the nation?
Ironically, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources is even on record stating they are not in a position to assume the duties of the Fox Waterway Agency and does not want this duty.
It is the belief of our membership that nothing positive can be served by the dissolution of the Fox Waterway Agency and such an act would have a negative economic impact on the region specifically and the region in general.
Boating on the majestic waters of Illinois waterways is a time honored tradition.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources reports that over 312,000 boats were registered in 2012 in Illinois.
Bad legislation such as what Senators Link and Morrison are championing is not trivial and will affect poorly on the state.
The Illinois Boaters Association and its Boaters Are Voters PAC are wholly grass-roots, or as we prefer to think of ourselves a ‘feet-wet’ citizen association that has risen up against these well funded and entrenched politicians who actively seek to disenfranchise the local Illinois voter while attacking the family centered and time honored tradition of boating and boating related activities in Illinois. We are a nonpartisan issue based association with the three core values–education, advocacy, and celebration of all aspects of Illinois boating.
We do support common sense legislation such as a brief safety requirement for those that would rent a boat in Illinois.
We are on the front lines and represent the average citizen’s voice in this War on Illinois Boating. The PAC has received exceptional responses from our candidate questionnaire from over seventy candidates who will appear on the Lake and McHenry county ballots in March of 2014. Formal endorsements of candidates will be publicly announced on March 11, 2014.
Membership and more information can be found online at www.ILboat.org.
The next meeting of the Fox Waterway Agency is on February 27, 2014 at 7 PM in Fox Lake.
The meeting is open to the public. Representatives of the Illinois Boaters Association will be at this meeting. Please check www.ILboat.org for the time and location of the March 11, 2014 candidate endorsement rally and membership drive.