Legislature Devastates Boating Community with Passage of Senate Bill 1589

March 4, 2022 – Today, despite overwhelming opposition and expert testimony refuting Senate Bill 1589’s scientific merit, it has passed the House and Senate. The bill is now headed to the Governor’s desk for signing. Our last chance to defeat Senate Bill 1589 is to urge Governor Brown to veto it. Sign our petition to the Governor today at: www.oregonfamiliesforboating.org/actnow.

We would like to thank the boating community for your unwavering commitment to speak out against this unnecessary legislation. Thousands of Oregonians voiced opposition to Senate Bill 1589. In the bill’s final moments on the House floor Democrats and Republicans alike urged their colleagues to vote no on the bill because of the lack of data available to support its claims and the impact it would have on local families and small business. The bill barely passed the House in a 33 – 25 vote.

This legislation will significantly impact boaters who recreate in the Newberg Pool and the small businesses that depend on their support. According to legislative analysts, almost 90% of tow boats currently offered by major manufacturers are over the 5,500-pound combined weight limit. Senate Bill 1589 also sets a dangerous precedent for future restrictions. Upon the Governor’s signature:

  • The Newberg Pool will be extended from Willamette Falls all the way to the mouth of the Yamhill River
  • Wake surfing will be banned outright
  • All other users engaged in towed water sports such as tubing, water skiing and wakeboarding will be required to obtain a special safety certification
  • Only boats under 5,500 pounds (dry weight + full ballast capacity) will be eligible for the special safety certification

“This is a devastating day for Oregon families and small businesses,” said Matt Radich, President of Active Water Sports. “Our public policies should be based on solid data, not unvalidated academic hypotheses, and scientific opinion. I’m disappointed our elected officials have knowingly put Oregonians out of good paying jobs and shrunk small business revenue without any proof that a weight limit or wake sports ban will have any positive impact on river health.”

This bill was pushed under the guide of environmental protection, yet local experts including fisheries scientist at Mount Hood Environmental and ecosystem restoration engineer David Gorman have testified that these assertions lack merit. The Oregon State Marine Board also confirmed with the Legislative Policy and Research Office that they are “not aware of where the 5,000-lb weight-limited proposed in Senate Bill 1589 is derived from.  

Oregon is quickly becoming one of the least friendly places for recreational boating in the entire nation. Over the last two years bans or significant towed water sports restrictions have been enacted across an unprecedented 41 miles of the Upper and Lower Willamette River. In addition, earlier this month Portland Metro surprised residents of Blue Lake in North Portland with a motorized boat ban without any public hearing or discussion.

Oregon Families for Boating is committed to ensuring boating opportunities are accessible to all Oregonians. We are urging the Oregon State Marine Board to conduct the study proposed in the bill to increase the boat weight limit and will explore all avenues to come up with a more sensible solution for all users to safely share the Newberg Pool. Keeping our waterways safe and healthy is a top priority and we will continue to advocate for education and enforcement, rather than overregulation. 

Those who would like to apply for the Newberg Pool Towed Watersports Certificate can find out more on the Oregon State Marine Board website. The new requirements should be updated in the coming months.

Another way Oregonians can advocate for fair access to our waterways is to support elected officials who voted against Senate Bill 1589. Many are coming up for reelection soon. Below is a complete list of how our elected officials cast their vote. You can confirm who your local legislators are at: https://www.oregonlegislature.gov/findyourlegislator/leg-districts.html

Legislators Who Voted FOR SB 1589 (AY)

Rep. Alonso Leon

Senator Anderson

Senator Armitage

Senator Beyer

President Courtney

Rep. Campos

Senator Dembrow

Rep. Dexter

Rep. Fahey

Senator Findley

Senator Frederick

Senator Gelser Blouin

Senator Golden

Rep. Gomberg

Senator Gorsek

Rep. Grayber

Senator Hansell

Rep. Helm

Rep. Hoy

Rep. Holvey

Rep. Hudson

Senator Jama

Senator Kennemer

Senator Knopp

Rep. Kropf

Senator Lawrence Spence

Senator Lieber

Senator Linthicum

Rep. Lively

Senator Manning Jr

Rep. Marsh

Rep. McLain

Rep. Nathanson

Rep. Nelson

Rep. Neron

Rep. Nosse

Senator Patterson

Rep. Power

Rep. Pham

Senator Prozanski

Rep. Prusak

Rep. Reardon

Rep. Reynolds

Speaker Rayfield

Rep. Sanchez

Rep. Salinas

Rep. Schouten

Rep. Smith G.

Rep. Smith Warner

Senator Steiner Hayward

Senator Sollman

Rep. Sosa

Senator Taylor

Rep. Valderrama

Senator Wagner

Rep. Wilde

Rep. Witt

Legislators Who Voted AGAINST SB 1589 (NAY)

Rep. Bonham

Rep. Bynum

Rep. Cate

Rep. Evans

Rep. George

Rep. Goodwin

Rep. Hayden

Rep. Hieb

Rep. Levy

Rep. Lewis

Rep. Meek

Rep. Morgan

Rep. Moore-Green

Rep. Noble

Rep. Owens

Rep. Reschke

Rep. Ruiz

Rep. Scharf

Rep. Smith DB

Rep. Stark

Senator Thatcher

Rep. Wallan

Rep. Weber

Rep. Williams

Rep. Wright

Rep. Zika