Wednesday afternoon, Governor Nathan Deal flew into Hartwell to sign HB777 at the Big Oaks Recreation Center.
Under the new law, boaters found to be in violation of any boating law will be issued a written citation, similar to a traffic citation for motorists. They can then pay the fine at a later date.
Under the old system, boaters committing an infraction on the waters had to either pay the fine immediately or go to jail.
Before signing the bill on Wednesday, Deal said the new law is part of a regional and interstate partnership.
“We are here today to sign a piece of legislation that I think is a pattern that I hope more states in the country will follow,” Deal told the crowd. “As we have recognized within the state of Georgia that we can no longer do things within county limits and that we have to cross county lines and form regional partnerships, I think we now by this legislation recognize that we sometimes need to reach across state boundaries as well.”
A similar bill is now before the South Carolina legislators and is also expected to pass in the coming weeks.
“We look forward to South Carolina passing their companion piece of legislation,” Deal said. “And I look forward to the opportunity to have my good friend, Governor Haley from South Carolina come together with us and we will signify that we are now two states that have joined together to approve this compact.”
State Representative Alan Powell who sponsored the bill in Georgia, said the bill came as the result of requests from both the Georgia and South Carolina DNR’s.
DNR officers from both groups were on hand Wednesday to witness the signing.