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Time is now to push favorable legislation

Mention increasing state revenues and keeping people working and you’ll find instant friends in your state legislature these days. The time for local and state marine trade associations to push for positive state legislation couldn’t be better.

In last November’s elections, the Republican party took control of the majority of state legislatures, 26 in all. There are 15 Democratic-controlled legislatures and eight split, with Nebraska being officially non-partisan. Regardless of the dominant party, however, every state lawmaker is concerned with jobs and generating income. So, when it comes to gaining lawmakers’ support for bills that can create both, the current timing is perfect.

Such is the case in Ohio, for example. The Boating Associations of Ohio has thrown its strong support behind a bill that would extend summer. HB 191, introduced last month in the Ohio General Assembly, is a measure that would prevent the school year from starting before Labor Day and require it to end by Memorial Day. In other words, to go back to what was essentially a traditional school year not too many years ago.\

Actually, BAO has been seeking such a law since neighboring Michigan passed similar legislation more than four years ago. There, the documented results have been summer business has increased, summer jobs are maintained longer (particularly good for college students), and state tax receipts have increased. Ohio dealers want to same benefits!

Truth is, for years the start of the school year has been creeping toward early August in most states. It has resulted in a shortened summer for families and decreased business for recreational and tourism industries. Thus far, 11 states have passed some form of school year legislation. These serve as blueprints for pursuit of the same in other states.
Notably, where there are Republican-controlled legislatures, the reception is at least perceived to be better for positive business-oriented lawmaking. And there haven’t been this many in more than three decades. In addition, many legislatures now have large numbers of small business owners serving in them.

The great recession has resulted in state lawmakers becoming more receptive than ever to any policy changes that could spur economic growth. While Connecticut’s just-passed 0.65 luxury tax on boats selling above $100,000 runs counter to what will spur business and job growth, most state legislatures can be expected to look favorably on positive legislative proposals that keeps jobs and raises revenues.

Dealers and the leaders of their MTAs should be identifying what public policy changes are desirable that could result in increased business, jobs and revenues for the state coffers. Likely, those taking such proposals to lawmakers will find a favorable reception.

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