A measure pending in a House committee would repeal a rule that cost a state representative access to his luxury houseboat for a time after he allegedly did not pay fees to a marina.
The legislator, Republican Rep. C. Wesley Morgan of Richmond, is a co-sponsor of House Bill 183, which is more broadly aimed at making sure owners of houseboats pay their property taxes.
But one part of the bill would address a situation that has Morgan involved in litigation.
Under current law, a marina operator trying to collect alleged unpaid rental fees can place a lien on a houseboat and keep the owner from moving it.
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Morgan once had his houseboat moored at Lee’s Ford Marina Resort in Pulaski County. The owner, J.D. Hamilton, alleged that Morgan had not paid slip-rental fees and a sales commission and filed a lien against the boat.
Morgan sued Lee’s Ford, arguing that the marina had illegally placed a lien on the boat and chained it to the dock. He denied he had not paid slip-rental fees
The lawmaker had agreed to sell the boat in July 2016 for $350,000 but the deal fell through after Hamilton chained the boat, Morgan said in a court document.
Morgan posted a bond last year of more than $160,000 — equal to twice the amount Hamilton’s lawyer said Morgan would owe if he loses the case — to regain access to the boat.
HB 183 would bar a marina from interfering with a boat owner’s right to take possession of a vessel and move it.
Morgan unsuccessfully sponsored a bill in 2017 that would have done the same thing.