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Dial makes waves with boating bill

By Staff
Bob Ingram, Alabama Scene
MONTGOMERY – No pun intended, but State Sen. Gerald Dial, D-Lineville, has created a lot of waves with a bill that would ban many large boats from nine popular lakes in Alabama.
Should the bill become law it would ban all boats longer than 30-feet 6-inches, from nine hugely popular reservoirs in Alabama: Weiss, Neely Henry, Logan Martin, Lay, Mitchell, Jordan, Harris (known as Lake Wedowee), Martin and Smith.
As originally written, Dial's measure included no grandfather clause, but he has amended the bill to allow owners who already own boats which violate the size limits to be exempt from the law. He has also agreed to exclude sailboats from the provisions of the law.
Dial, whose elongated senatorial district includes Lake Wedowee, said he sponsored the bill after meeting with Georgia developers who requested the ban. Lake Wedowee is easy driving distance from Atlanta.
He said the lakes near Atlanta had become overrun with large boats and that people wanting to build on a lake are looking for one free of these sorts of crafts.
The lawmaker admitted his bill shows no mercy for the so-called "cigarette boats," the very powerful, high-speed boats affordable only by the very rich. (At one time Richard Scrushy of HealthSouth fame had two of them at his mansion on Lake Martin.) These boats would be banned without benefit of a grandfather clause.
Sen. Dial has also given a break to the marinas which operate on the affected lakes. Many of them already have in stock the types of boats that would violate the proposed law. He has agreed to allow the marinas to sell the violating boats in stock, but they would be prohibited from adding any more of these boats to their inventory.
The bill has the support of Alabama Power Company. A spokesman for APC said the utility supported the measure because they did not want to see any of its lakes "become like Lake Lanier" near Atlanta, which is now home to more than 1,000 large boats.
Dial said he was guardedly optimistic that his bill will pass, especially after it was amended to exclude present owners of big boats. Needless to say, the support of Alabama Power will also be a huge plus.
Dial said he had received overwhelming support for the legislation from neighborhood associations on the various lakes as well as from bass fishermen.
The U. S. Justice Department is most insistent that servicemen and woman now in Iraq and other isolated posts have the right to vote and after the June 6 primary there would be insufficient time to print the run-off ballots, mail them to the servicemen overseas and then get them back in time for the June 27 runoff.
A bill is now moving through the Legislature to hold the Democrat and Republican run-offs on July 17.
While it is improbable that there will be a run-off in either of the gubernatorial primaries — there are but two major candidates in those races — most certainly there will be a number of run-offs in the other statewide races.
And there are few worst sins than for a driver to park in a place reserved for another, especially if it is reserved for a legislator.
Recently Rep. Albert Hall, D-Gurley, confirmed this. When he found a car blocking his reserved spot he let the air out of the left front tire of the vehicle. He was a bit chagrined when he later learned the car belonged to the wife of another legislator, but he was not totally repentant, to wit: "The next time I find a car in my place I will let the air out of all four tires."