Sophia’s Law Passes

Bill will improve safety on Minnesota’s boats

ST. PAUL, Minn. – In response to a tragic accident resulting in the passing of seven-year-old Sophia Baechler, motorboats in Minnesota will soon be required to install carbon monoxide detection devices thanks to legislation that was passed unanimously by the Senate on Tuesday. “The bill, called Sophia’s Law, is about safety, education and prevention,” according to chief author Senator Melisa Franzen (DFL-Edina).

“Carbon monoxide poisoning is a silent killer that can be deadly within minutes. While carbon monoxide detectors are common in homes, many people may not think to have them on their boats – a risk that can lead to tragic accidents. This law educates people about this danger, and can prevent risks from carbon monoxide poisoning and improve the safety of every boater in Minnesota,” said Franzen.

The bill, SF 2678, would require qualifying motorboats with enclosed accommodations to have a functioning carbon monoxide device if they operate on Minnesota’s waters or are sold within in the state. Beginning May 1, 2017, gas-powered boats over 19 feet are also required to have warning labels in three areas. A violation of the law is punishable by a safety warning, with subsequent violations resulting in a petty misdemeanor.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless and tasteless gas, and can pose a risk to many people, including boaters. Unintentional CO poisoning claims over 430 lives annually and claimed the life of an Edina resident last year on a boat that did not have a CO detector. While there are many safety requirements in place for boaters, as of right now boats are not required to have a CO detector.

“This is common-sense legislation that will improve the safety of boaters and people across the state. In the land of 10,000 lakes, we should do all we can to ensure that Minnesotans are safe when they enjoy boating on our waters. This bill is a step towards achieving this goal. Minnesota has the opportunity to be a leader and be the first state to pass this important legislation, which could prevent future boating tragedies related to carbon monoxide. I urge my colleagues in the House to follow the Senate’s lead and pass this bill,” added Sen. Franzen.

For questions on this or any legislation, please contact Sen. Franzen at (651) 296-6238 or by email at sen.melisa.franzen@senate.mn.

Senator Franzen
Melisa Franzen represents District 49 in the southwest Twin Cities metropolitan area.

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