State issues are eye-openers at ACMA meeting

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When it comes to legislation and regulation, the industry’s daily news reports, such as Trade Only Today, usually focus on major national issues being tracked by the National Marine Manufacturers Association or the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas. Yesterday, representatives from the regional associations that participate in the Advisory Council of Marine Associations met in Orlando, Fla., to review current federal issues. But what really impressed me was the reports on what these state and regional associations are accomplishing back home.

ACMA’s mission is to annually review and recommend legislative priorities to the MRAA board of directors. And yesterday, a variety of federal issues were discussed with an eye toward determining this year’s recommendations. They will be finalized and sent up soon. In the meantime, the final item on the meeting agenda was a report on activities from the state and regional associations.

By the time I finished listening to each association’s report, I couldn’t help but realize there are so many important issues and initiatives being undertaken by these groups that should be widely recognized within the broader boating industry. Here’s a look at many (but definitely not all) of the issues and actions these associations are undertaking.

Michigan Boating Industries Association: Sales tax only on the difference; sales tax cap; school start dates post Labor Day; wakeboarding negative impacts and proposed restrictions; environmental impact of oil pipeline; ship ballast and invasive species restrictions.

Wisconsin Marine Association: Accelerated program to improve knowledge of industry with members of the Wisconsin legislature; diesel fuel road tax on boaters; workforce development through trade schools; $200,000 grant to continue Clean Marina Program; actions to stem growing algae problems.

Marine Industries Association of South Florida: Reduce sales tax cap from $1 million; address infrastructure problem that cuts off reasonable water access to several boatyards and facilities; seed funding for technical schools; need changes in SIC codes; addressing algae problems.

Marine Trades Association of New Jersey: Maintain positive sales tax policy; user conflicts on inland lakes; funding to dredge/maintain shallow waterways; proposed minimum wage increases/provisions for seasonal workers; new administration and regulatory agency heads; marijuana issues.

Lake Erie Marine Trades Association: Stop proposed wind farms in Lake Erie; attack annual algae bloom in Lake Erie and inland Ohio lakes; a bill to deal with abandoned boats; increased costs of dredging under new Ohio law; Asian carp and invasive species; support for technical education.

Massachusetts Marine Trades Association: Tax rate and cap issues to compete with surrounding states; $100,000 grant to support youth jobs in boating programs; Massachusetts Boating and Fishing Week with RBFF support (5,000 participants in 2018).

Southwest Florida Marine Industry Association: Expanded up Florida west coast to form Tampa Bay Marine Division; monitor and notify members every week of issues in each coastal community; scholarships funding tool purchases for trade students; theft control programs/workshops with law enforcement agencies; seed money for facilities development and access support.

Rhode Island Marine Trades Association: Preapprentice training initiative; abandoned boat tax on registrations; offshore wind turbine issues; $785,000 and $160,000 training fund for workforce development; fourth grade sailing programs with the goal of teaching all R.I. fourth-graders how to sail; fiberglass recycling program.

Canadian Representatives: Our fellow industry members in Canada also reported being engaged in issues, including invasive species; navigation protection; environmental issues negatively impacting new facilities development; reopening lakes to navigation; wake issues.

Of course, I was hearing brief reports from only nine associations at the ACMA meeting, but it was a good snapshot of the things our regional and state groups are doing every day. They are advancing the boating industry on one hand while protecting it from ill-conceived legislation and regulation on the other. Without exception, every marine trades association earns membership support from every dealer in its area because it does for the members what they could not do for themselves.

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