U.S. Rep. Salud, Carbajal, D-Santa Barbara, this week helped to advance key reforms in the Coast Guard Authorization Act.
The bill includes reforms that Rep. Carbajal, D-Santa Barbara, has worked on over the past year, which includes reforms to maritime liability rules in response to the 2019 Conception boat fire that killed 34 people and additional protections to eliminate sexual violence in the maritime industry.
“Today, I joined my colleagues to continue the bipartisan legacy of support for our Coast Guard in their broad and critical missions,” Rep. Carbajal said Wednesday. “As chairman of the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee and representative for multiple Coast Guard installations in the Central Coast of California, I’m committed to ensuring that all members of the Coast Guard have the resources they need to respond to emergencies from sea to shining sea.”
The Coast Guard Authorization Act includes language that would require owners of small passenger vessels to be held legally responsible, including by requiring compensation notwithstanding the value of the boat. This provision reflects reforms first proposed in Rep. Carbajal’s Small Passenger Vessel Liability Fairness Act, which he introduced with U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., in September 2021 in response to the Conception Boat Fire in 2019. The legislation advanced also includes provisions of the Safer Seas Act, a bipartisan bill co-sponsored by Rep. Carbajal that is designed to protect those in the maritime transportation industry from sexual assault and harassment.
These provisions include mandatory reporting requirements to the Coast Guard for any seafarer, master, or vessel owner with knowledge of sexual assault or harassment, improved protections for survivors and witnesses, and a clarification that the Coast Guard has the ability to deny, suspend, or revoke a merchant mariner credential to individuals who have been convicted of sexual harassment or sexual assault.
Legislation authored by Rep. Carbajal and Sen. Feinstein, the Small Passenger Vessel Safety Act, became law in January 2021. That bill focused exclusively on improving safety features in small vessels in order to prevent future tragedies.