Mario Biaggi, former U.S. Representative and chair of the Coast Guard and Navigation Subcommittee, died at his Bronx home June 24 at the age of 97. During his years in Congress, Biaggi kept recreational boating safety issues as a top priority.
The “Biaggi Bill”, the recreational Boating Safety and Facilities Improvement Act, established an alternate method of providing a base of federal assistance for state boating safety programs.
Authorization for the State Recreational Boating Safety (RBS) Grant Program expired in 1979 but was reestablished by the National Recreational Boating Safety and Facilities Improvement Act of 1980. This legislation is generally known as the Biaggi Act since it stems from a boat fuel tax-based funding bill first introduced by Rep. Mario Biaggi.
The act generated funds for boating and boating safety based on a percentage of the federal gasoline tax paid by boaters. The act provided that a portion of federal excise tax receipts attributable to motorboat fuel use would be transferred to a new RBS account to fund the program. By returning a portion of the fuel taxes paid by boaters to boating safety, the Biaggi Act ensured that those benefiting from the program would also help pay the costs – “user pays, user benefits.”
For his efforts he was inducted into the National Safe Boating Council’s Boating Safety Hall of Fame in 2000.
A New York City police legend, Biaggi also founded the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. In 1984, Mr. Biaggi formed the NLEOMF and his legislation to have a national monument built in honor of America’s law enforcement officers became law that same year. His dream became a reality when the memorial was dedicated in 1991. Today, that memorial stands proudly in historic Judiciary Square in Washington, D.C. and bears the names of 20,538 law enforcement officers who died in the performance of duty.