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ABC 2014: Five issues dominate this year’s agenda

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The 2014 American Boating Congress starts tonight with a welcome-reception boat cruise along the Potomac River before marine industry members meet with members of Congress on Capitol Hill on Tuesday and Wednesday to push boating-friendly legislation.

A packed agenda has two days of Hill visits, as well as sessions on subjects such as lobbying techniques and panel discussions.

The National Marine Manufacturers Association, one of 38 co-hosts, is focusing on five issues for this year’s event. The group also unveiled a new app designed to make this year’s ABC more accessible. ABC also has 20 sponsors.

Ethanol remains the NMMA’s top legislative issue on Capitol Hill, and it has gotten movement in the past several months with bills seeking to revise the Renewable Fuel Standard. The NMMA is equipping ABC attendees with photographs of engines corroded from E15 use.

The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act has received traction in the last few months following a report by the Commission on Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Management, which is chaired by Bass Pro Shops founder and CEO Johnny Morris and Maverick Boats president and co-founder Scott Deal.

The Sport Fish Restoration Trust Fund is another topic of concern because the Transportation Bill, which the fund is a part of, is being reauthorized this spring or early summer.

Aquatic invasive species is the fourth topic, and a sticky one because the NMMA is asking attendees to request funding from the government for programs to thwart the spread of invasive species such as Asian carp and zebra mussels.

The final topic is the Business Activity Tax Simplification Act, or BATSA, Gabriel said. It would codify the traditional view that Congress requires a business to have a physical presence in a state before that business can be subjected to a business activity tax.

Various groups have different areas of focus for the event, but several seem to merge on ethanol, the Magnuson-Stevens Act revision and keeping the Sport Fish Restoration Trust Fund.

Prominent speakers addressing areas of interest for the U.S. recreational boating industry include:

• U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Fla.

• U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher, R-Tenn.

• Amy Walter, national editor of the Cook Political Report

• Chad Moutray, chief economist for the National Association of Manufacturers

• Rowan Gould, deputy director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

• Frank Peterson, president of the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation

In addition, this year’s agenda includes the ABC’s co-host-led panel discussion, including Don Parkhurst of the National Marine Lenders Association; Chris Edmonston of the National Safe Boating Council; Brad Pickel of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway Association; and Nicole Wood of BoatUS.

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