Washington, D.C. – A modified version of H.R. 5797, the Mill Lacs Lake Freedom to Fish Act of 2012, was passed by the Senate Wednesday under the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2012.
Initially authored and introduced by Rep. Cravaack on May 12, 2012, the legislation would remove burdensome, administrative overreach by the U.S. Coast Guard and restore Minnesota’s authority to permit and inspect the vessels on Lake Mille Lacs.
In March of 2010, the Coast Guard began requiring fishing guides on Lake Mille Lacs to acquire a federal “six-pack” boating license to continue to do their jobs. This certification is difficult to obtain and can cost individual fishing guides up to $2,000 in fees, training, and travel costs. In fact, the two closest testing locations are located in Toledo, OH and St. Louis, MO. Citing historical interstate commerce, this policy change was based on a 1981 Army Corps of Engineers determination that the lake had been used in the 1800s for logging. Ironically, this decision was made despite the fact that the Rum River, which formerly connected the lake to the Mississippi River, had been dammed for decades.
“With all the gridlock in Washington, we must not lose sight of the common sense, bipartisan reforms that can actually get done. This new Coast Guard regulation, being funded at taxpayer expense, would take a toll on the Mille Lacs Lake resort-based economy and make fishing more expensive. Ultimately, Mille Lacs Lake belongs to Minnesotans,” said Rep. Cravaack. “It’s been an honor and a privilege to help bring resolution to this important issue, and it is my sincere hope that this legislation will encourage elected representatives and civic leaders to further address the boundaries of an ever-encroaching federal government and our sovereign state of Minnesota,” he added.
The Mille Lacs Lake Freedom to Fish Act was passed by the House on August 1, 2012, and was subsequently introduced by Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken in the Senate.