The National Marine Manufacturers Association presented several legislative awards at this year's American Boating Congress.
The Admiral's Circle Legislative Appreciation Award went to U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind. A keynote speaker at this year's ABC and an avid boater, Donnelly also is a member of the House Financial Services Committee, which has put him on the front lines of the financial crisis. He has personally fought to increase liquidity in the marine and RV floorplan and consumer lending sectors through the government's TALF program and others, according to the NMMA. A member of the Congressional Boating Congress, Donnelly also has been supportive of the NMMA's efforts with the Small Business Administration and the net operating loss carryback.
Legislative Achievement Awards were presented to Jim Hardin of Grady-White and Robin Parker of Parker Boats.
Last summer, North Carolina legislators worked to change a decades-old law that banned towing a boat with a beam greater than 8 feet on weekends and holidays. If the law had been left unchanged, boaters would have been banned from towing on weekends and holidays or face fines of more than $1,000 per infraction.
Hardin and Parker led a grassroots effort, organized a boat-towing demonstration and went to Raleigh dozens of times to get a bill passed that would allow boats with a beam of up to 9-1/2 feet to be towed anytime. Gov. Mike Easley, however, vetoed the bill.
Hardin and Parker continued the fight and, as a result, the state legislature overrode a gubernatorial veto for the first time since 1997, when the governor was first granted the power. Not only did the law change, but North Carolina now has among the most liberal boat-towing laws in the country, according to the NMMA.
Industry veteran J.J. Marie was presented with the NMMA's Lifetime Achievement Award. Marie retired as president of Zodiac of North America earlier this year after being with the company since 1984. He also served on the NMMA board of directors for more than a decade and has been active in numerous other industry boards and legislative issues over the years.
Finally, Corporate Citizenship Awards were presented to the following companies for their efforts in getting their senior executives and other employees to contribute to the NMMA's Political Action Committee: Sumerset Houseboats, Regulator Marine, Indmar Products and Faria Marine Instruments.
This article originally appeared in the June 2009 issue.