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Victory for boating may be in sight

I know I’ve written about this several times in the past, but please don’t leave me now.

Late last month, our industry, along with every retail customer, marked two major successes that shorten the road to ultimate victory. I’m referring, of course, to our need for passage of the “Clean Boating Act of 2008,” our only hope for relief from the requirement that all boaters get an EPA discharge permit beginning Sept. 30, 2008. Remember, this is the biggest threat to boating since the luxury tax debacle.

Success #1: The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved H.R. 5949. This bill was introduced by Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-OH) and it is identical to S. 2766, "The Clean Boating Act of 2008," introduced by Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Bill Nelson (D-FL). We have been diligently pushing S. 2766 as the bill most likely to get sufficient support to pass in the Senate.

Success #2: Just before the Memorial Day recess, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved S. 2766. What these successes mean is that both bills have cleared major hurdles to being considered by the full House and Senate, respectively.

By no means can we declare victory, however. Clearing the committees, as important as it is, does not assure passage in either chamber of Congress. Margaret Podlich, BoatU.S. vice president government affairs has been leading the consumer side lobbying effort. She recently reported to her members: “We still have a long way to go, and we still need help – all we can muster - to pass this legislation for recreational boating.”

Time isn’t on our side -- the permit deadline is now less than four months away. During that time, Congress is off for a July 4 holiday period and has a scheduled summer recess for all of August.

Moreover, with major elections coming this fall, it’s probable the House and Senate will hold shortened sessions after returning from the August recess. Accordingly, we need to push for passage of both bills by the full House and Senate during June or July.

Here’s what you can do: Email or call your two Senators and your Congressman.
Go to: http://www.boatblue.org/takeaction.aspx. Simply say you’re asking Senator X or Congressman X to push for a scheduled vote on S. 2766 and H.R. 5949, respectively.

NMMA’s Mat Dunn, who has been spearheading the industry’s Washington efforts, recently reported that nearly 45,000 emails had been sent to Congress through www.BoatBlue.org. Another 8500 emails came through the boattest.com website. It’s that kind of effort that has moved things through the Committees. But it will take a continued effort on a similar scale to get the bills scheduled onto the floor of each chamber. We must keep the heat on so, please, do your part.

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