Arizona House of Representatives Passes Boater Education Legislation Overwhelming Support Moves the Bill to the Senate

Minneapolis, MN, March 13, 2024 – On Monday, March 4th, the Arizona House of Representatives voted to pass H.B. 2149: watercraft operation; minors; safety education, in a 40-17 vote. Favorable passage out of the House now sends this piece of legislation to the Senate, where it must also move through the Committee process and ultimately receive a vote on the floor.

“We are excited to see the Arizona House of Representatives vote favorably on this important piece of legislation and look forward to educating members of the Arizona Senate about the importance of boater education” said Chad Tokowicz, Government Relations Manager, Marine Retailers Association of the Americas (MRAA). “With recreational boating safety a top priority of our industry, it is important we continue to advocate for policies that are proven and will ultimately ensure boaters are more comfortable on the water”.

In 2022 alone, boating accidents killed 13 individuals, injured 60, and caused $1 million in damages across Arizona. Sponsored by Representative David Cook (R-07) and Senator Brian Fernandez (D-023), H.B. 2149 establishes a boater education program to ensure the safe use of Arizona’s expansive waterways. By requiring those born on or after January 1, 2007 operating a vessel over 50 HP to take a NASBLA-approved boater education course, or presenting a boater safety card from another state, Arizona recognizes the importance safe boating practices. The MRAA and the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) worked in close collaboration with the Water Sports Industry Association (WSIA), the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF), and local stakeholders, to garner support for this legislation and highlight the need for increased recreational boating safety measures.

With Arizona’s exploding population over the past years, boating has significantly increased in our state. When law enforcement states that it is time Arizona moves toward a mandatory safety class to operate on our limited lakes and rivers” said Representative David L. Cook (R-AZ-07), a primary co-sponsor of the legislation. “We must act and leave it to lawmakers to determine the issue of public safety.”

The success of H.B. 2149 can be largely attributed to the grassroots support from in-state boaters who have been continuously advocating for a safer boating culture in Arizona. For example, Bullhead City resident, Bart Anderson, recently penned a letter to the editor in the Lake Havasu News. In the letter, Anderson called upon his experience as a Coast Guard Auxiliary Member stating that it is time Arizona pass boater education. After spending several hundred hours on the river as a deckhand on the police boat, Anderson says, “[Even though] there may not have been [a boating] accident…it doesn’t have to be an accident to be a huge safety concern.”

“In an overwhelming show of bipartisan support, 40 Representatives voted to pass HB 2149. The legislation is a common-sense measure arming Arizona boaters with the essential knowledge required for the safe operation of marine vessels,” said Rachel Fischer, NMMA Western Policy and Engagement Manager. “This is positive step in protecting those on the water and I look forward to working with the Arizona Senate to get HB 2149 to Governor Hobbs’s desk before the summer.”

Across the state, Marc Lamber, a Martindale Hubbell AV Preeminent-rates trial attorney and consumer advocate, published an op-ed in the Arizona Capitol Times supporting H.B. 2149. Lamber has written extensively about boating safety in the past, and says, “H.B. 2149 is a common-sense measure” and the bill does not curtail enjoyment of recreational boating, rather aligning Arizona with 45 fellow states across the country. As Arizona increases in population and popularity, boating has as well, which Lamber believes is up to the state legislature to move forward in passing mandatory boater education.

With over 125,000 boats registered and a $2 billion annual impact, Arizona is a hub for recreational boating. By bridging the gap between education and boating, Arizona takes the next step in ensuring that recreational boating is here to stay in the state.

As the legislation heads to the Senate, it is important our community continue to advocate for this important piece of legislation. If you live in Arizona and would like to support H.B. 2149 in the Senate, please take action on Boating United here.

If you have any questions or are interested in scheduling a visit with Arizona members, state legislators or their respective staff members, please contact MRAA Government Relations Manager, Chad Tokowicz at

About the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas

At the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas, we believe that for the marine industry to thrive, the retail organizations that interact with the boaters in their community must thrive. With that in mind, MRAA works to create a strong and healthy boating industry by uniting those retailers, providing them with opportunities for improvement and growth, and representing them with a powerful voice. For more information, visit or contact us at 763-315-8043.