The Advisory Council of Marine Associations will be sending a list of issues and actions to the board of the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas as a result of a meeting held Tuesday in Orlando, Fla.
The combined in-person and call-in meeting included state and local marine association leaders from around the country. The group’s purpose is to identify and recommend actions on federal and state policy issues.
“We’ll be sending along our longest list yet,” Northwest Marine Trade Association and current ACMA chairman George Harris said. “That’s because with a new administration coming into Washington, we must create an advocacy agenda by identifying and, subsequently, communicating our issues to positively impact boating and our industry going forward.”
Here’s a brief outline of issues expected to be passed up to the MRAA board:
- With major corporate tax reform expected in Congress very soon, the MRAA should immediately survey its retail members to identify any current tax policies they want to protect, change or eliminate. (Note: the National Marine Manufacturers Association is actively surveying all manufacturer members now.)
- With a likely $1 trillion federal infrastructure bill expected from the new administration, it’s important that the MRAA seek to identify what retailers want for boating out of such a federal program? (Dredging, access construction, breakwaters and municipal water quality improvement facilities are a few possibilities.)
- Workforce development remains a priority for the marine industry. The MRAA should seek and support legislation that increases access to and funding for high school vocational training programs and facilities, such as through the availability of Pell Grants, government and corporate scholarships and similar financial assistance.
- Ethanol above the E10 level remains a denunciation of the economic and social importance of boating. The MRAA should advocate and support revisions to the Renewable Fuel Standard, the Food & Fuel Protection Act and similar efforts to cap the amount of ethanol in fuel supplies at 10 percent. Further, the MRAA should advocate for Congress to overturn EPA regulations issued after May 2016.
- Advocate for inclusion in the Army Corps of Engineers’ missions under the Water Resources and Development Act recognition of the real economic contribution of boating and, therefore, include applicable infrastructure programs such as, but not limited to, dredging the Intracoastal Waterway; dredging small-boat and low-tonnage harbors; and similar projects directly impacting recreational boating.
- Develop a policy position and action plan to address the rapidly growing algae problems being experienced in waterways throughout the country by, for example, advocating for a study to determine the real impact of agriculture on water quality; calling for municipal stormwater infrastructure improvements; creating no-discharge zones and similar possible actions.
- Review the MRAA’s position on the Department of Labor’s new overtime regulations (temporarily postponed by a court) in concert with member dealers to determine actual impact, while reviewing the ramifications of all legislation either passed (i.e. H.R. 6094) or pending (like Senate bills 2702, 3462, 3464; House bills 4773, 5813, etc.)
- Advocate for full funding of the Great Lakes Restoration Program, recognizing that one-third of all recreational boating and usage occurs in this region.
- Advocate for and support all actions that will help stop the spread and prevent the introduction of additional invasive species into the nation’s lakes and rivers.
- Recognizing that fishing is a cornerstone of the marine industry’s success, the MRAA must remain fully engaged on all levels — federal and state — in issues that could impact access to fishing for recreational boaters, while continually advocating for complete recognition of recreational boating and fishing’s enormous positive economic impact.
Following approval by all ACMA member associations, the final recommendations are expected to be sent to the MRAA’s board this month. The ACMA meeting was held in conjunction with the 2016 Marine Dealer Conference & Expo, which winds up today in Orlando.