TWRA Boating Law Changes May Negatively Impact Marinas

TMA Members:  Please read below regarding legislation that would require anyone over the age of 30 that rents boat take a boating safety course!  This legislation goes in effect on July 1, unless we can get it delayed and repealed. 

It is very important that you contact TWRA Director Ed Carter today at 615-781-6500, also call your legislator ASAP!  We have a meeting scheduled to discuss this with Mr. Carter, he needs to hear your voice loud and clear prior to that meeting. 

New legislation was supported by TWRA and passed this legislative session that will drastically affect your business. 


Effective July 1, 2018.  (LESS THAN 30 DAYS)




If you have reservations and/or advance bookings for boat rentals and the person renting your vessel is not over the age of 30 years old, these individuals must possess a TWRA approved Safe Boating Certificate.  With less than 30 days to prepare for this new law, most of your renters will not have time to schedule and take a “Safe Boating Course”.  Therefore, to comply with the law, marinas will be forced to cancel these advance bookings which could drastically affect your bottom line.  


Despite Tennessee Marina Association working diligently with TWRA in 2005 to pass Mandatory Safe Boating Legislation, TWRA did NOT contact or involve TMA about this change in the law.  This law change was done as a “caption bill” that inserted one sentence hidden in a bill that gives TWRA Officers much-needed protections similar to Tennessee’s “Move-Over” law that protects officers conducting boating stops when their blue lights are on.  TMA would have gladly supported this protection for TWRA Officers, but no one knew about the one-sentence language inserted into this bill which deleted the safe-boating certificate exemption for renters of vessels who undergo a safe boating orientation given by marinas.  TMA helped then TWRA Boating Chief, Ed Carter,  in 2005, by tirelessly working with reluctant state legislators to pass the Mandatory Safe Boating Law and both organizations agreed that renters of vessels would be exempt from the certification due to each marina giving a required “Safe Boating Orientation” to each and every renter.  TWRA has now taken this exemption away from all Tennessee Marinas with the help of State Senators Bailey and Bowling as well as State Representative Mary Littleton.  No involvement or notification to Tennessee Marinas occurred during this secretive legislative process until yesterday, June 6, 2018, less than 30 days away from this law taking effect.  No economic impact study on the negative effect on Tennessee Marinas and recreational boating was conducted.  This new law will have a negative impact on your business as well as on Tennessee’s tax revenue.  Out of state tourists and renters of your vessels will not be prepared for this new law.  


WHAT TO DO NOW !!!!  Take Action !!!!!!


The Tennessee Marina Association will formally be asking TWRA Executive Director Ed Carter to delay enforcement of this new law until January 1, 2019 which will give Tennessee Marinas adequate time to prepare their rental customers for this new law change.  We need your help.!!!!


Contact TWRA and express your displeasure with the manner in which this law was changed without any economic impact study being done by TWRA or State Legislators.  TWRA has known about and supported this change in boating law since January 2018 at the latest, yet has only notified the Tennessee Marina Association on June 6, 2018, less than 30 days prior to the new law taking effect.  Executive Director, Ed Carter’s email address is:


Contact your State Senator and State Representative and express your displeasure with the manner in which this law was passed and express the magnitude of the negative effect on your business. Send this message to your state senators and representatives asking them to encourage TWRA Chief Ed Carter to delay enforcement of this law change until January 1, 2019.  


Please copy TMA on any correspondence you send or receive to TWRA or your elected officials.  If you need help finding email addresses for your State Senators or State Representatives, please let us know.  


If all Tennessee Marina’s TAKE ACTION NOW, the Board of Directors of TMA feel as though TWRA could delay enforcement on this new law change until January 1, 2019.


Thanks for your help on this important issue!!!


Senator Paul Bailey:

Senator Janice Bowling:

Representative Mary Littleton:

Kevin Triplett: Tennessee Tourism Commissioner:

Dustin Goforth: TMA Legislative Representative:









TWRA Concessions for 2018 Boating Season

Due to the outcry from TMA members TWRA has agreed to the following:

  1. TMA Members to continue their normal rental operations for 2018.
  2. 2018 will be an education year with no citations issued by TWRA for non-compliance with this law.
  3. A TWRA Officers who stops a rental vessel as part of a routine stop or for a violation will ask the renter for a “Safe Boating Certificate” and if they do not possess one, TWRA Officers will advise them to complete this rental as normal but before renting a vessel again, please take time to complete a “Safe Boating Course”.
  4. We Advise marinas to put language in their rental contract for this year that reads; “It is the renter’s responsibility to comply with all Tennessee Boating Laws and to have any boating safety certifications required by Tennessee Law”.


TMA in conjunction with Lobbyists Dustin Goforth will be drafting language to correct this law during the January 2019 start of legislative session.  Thanks to all the marinas for calling their legislator and getting involved in the legislative process.  Send us your feedback for the “Safe Boating Certification” law that you would like to see introduced in 2019.