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Misinterpretation leads to controversy for proposed law

Posted: 9:16 PM, Mar 21, 2019
Updated: 2019-03-21 21:16:39-04

LANSING, Mich. — A misinterpretation led to some unintended consequences for a Michigan lawmaker.

Rep. Jason Sheppard, R-Temperance, introduced House Bill 4362 with the intention of expanding the timeframe boats could be on public inland lakes. Instead, some interpreted the language of the bill to do the opposite and actually limited the timeframe vessels could be on the water.

Sheppard said he came up with the bill because he’s seen lakes that have public boat access, but limit sporting activities to a certain timeframe.

His intention was to expand wake hours for public inland lakes to 8 a.m. to 30 minutes after sunset.

“All I’m trying to do is add more all sports boating hours to our lakes that have public access, so the people of Michigan can have more time to enjoy the waters,” he said.

Sheppard says part of the issue was that it was interpreted to apply to all the lakes in Michigan.

“Obviously, we have a legal team that writes legislation, and when I read through it, I did not read it as pertaining to every lake in the state of Michigan to have this restriction put on it,” Sheppard said. “I was under the assumption that they were only referring to a certain code in our laws that pertain to personal watercraft, and not digging into every boat, every lake, all restrictions.”

After seeing how the law was interpreted, Sheppard’s team is working on alternative language to clarify what the bill was originally trying to accomplish.