Boating caucus gets major overhaul

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There weren’t a lot of changes in congressional committees that matter the most to the boating industry as a result of the midterm elections, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association, but the Boating Caucus lost a substantial number of members.

Around 30 caucus members lost elections or retired, said Nicole Vasilaros, senior vice president of government and legal affairs for the NMMA.

“This is one of the largest caucuses in Congress, it’s very bipartisan, but now there’s about 80 new members of Congress we can go after, and talk to them about the industry,” said Vasilaros during a webinar to discuss the midterm election results and how they will affect the marine industry. “That’s something we’ll be doing at the start of January.”

Big losses in the caucus were Reps. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla., and Tom MacArthur, R-N.J., as well as Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind.

Another major loss was Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., who cosponsored The Modern Fish Act.

“Sen. Nelson has been the lead Democratic champion of the Modern Fish Act and a tireless advocate for the boating community,” Vasilaros told Trade Only Today. “We plan to continue to work with his office for the remainder of the year to get the bill across the finish line. Modern Fish remains NMMA’s top priority for the lame duck.”

NMMA and their coalition partners sent a letter to Congress on Monday encouraging members to include the Modern Fish Act in their lands and water package and pass the comprehensive legislation before the end of the year.

“Recreational and commercial fishing are fundamentally different endeavors and should be managed differently,” said the letter. “Yet, antiquated, one-size-fits-all federal policies are unnecessarily limiting the public’s access to our nation’s abundant natural resources. The Modern Fish Act would make critical changes to the federal fisheries management system to better manage the recreational sector in a way that is more appropriate and effective while also improving available data.

Republicans kept control of more state legislatures than expected, but also lost more House seats than it has since Watergate, said George Cooper, a consultant with Forbes Tate Partners.

“We saw a lot of this play out with suburban districts,” said Cooper. “One of the bigger shifts we saw was in the suburbs, particularly with women. That’s something republicans are going to be taking a close look at.”

There was also a stronger break from Independents toward Democrats in the midterms than is typical, said Cooper.

“A lot of this came down to health care,” said Cooper. “As more people have come to live with the ACA or Obamacare, they’ve come to have an expectation when it comes to those benefits. That became a bigger issue than people expecting maybe six months ago.”

Another key takeaway was a huge surge in women running for Congress and women turning out to vote, said Cooper, which will also shift the dynamic on Capital Hill.

Listen to the full webinar here.


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