| Brainerd, Minnesota

One of the last bills put forth by the Eighth District’s Rep. Chip Cravaack-R will give control of Mille Lacs Lake fishing guide licensure to the Minnesota Department of Natural resources rather than the current United States Coast Guard’s which offers a “six pack” boating license that costs as much as $2,000. The cost is prohibitive according to Mille Lacs Lake fishing guides.

The measure’s last hurdle is the signature of President Barack Obama.

Under the Coast Guard system of licensing, guides were required to learn and seek certification in CPR, first aid and other requirements that were only applicable to those operating on larger waterways, such as the Great Lakes, seas and oceans.

It might be comparable to trying to fit a 454 -V8 engine into a Volkswagen Beetle.

“Bob Carlson, a Mille Lacs fishing guide and employee at the Red Door Resort on the same lake, said the Coast Guard requirements were overkill for small-time guides on Mille Lacs. He said the Coast Guard regulations were intended for bodies of water such as Lake Superior and large rivers where guides were negotiating traffic with barges and bigger ships,” he noted in a Dispatch article last week.

“The testing process was extensive and quite expensive,” Carlson said. “In excess of $2,000 to get a “six-pack (license),” he said.

Cravaack introduced the Mille Lacs Freedom to Fish Act in the House of Representatives in August of 2012 and it was picked up in the U.S. Senate by Senators Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn, and Al Franken, D-Minn.

Klobuchar said Mille Lacs is a vital part of the region’s economy and lifestyle.

“This legislation will free fishing guides on Mille Lacs from an unnecessary regulatory burden, saving them time and money and protecting the health of this industry,” said Franken following the bill’s passage in the Senate.

It would be nice to witness this kind of bipartisan support on other issues that impact Minnesota and the rest of our nation’s economy and national security.

Keith Hansen