BOSTON — Massachusetts has been a leader on titling legislation but has been left behind in its boat tax legislation.
Instead of a “patchwork of laws,” the National Marine Manufacturers Association would like to see states follow the lead of Massachusetts so there is blanket titling, said Libby Yranski, state government relations director for the NMMA, at a legislative briefing during the New England Boat Show on Thursday.
“Some states don’t have titling, so when you buy a used vessel, you don’t know whether it was totaled or stolen,” said Yranski, outlining national and regional legislative priorities for the NMMA.
However, the state is behind others in the Northeast that have capped taxes on boats or eliminated them altogether. “Connecticut just sliced sales tax for vessels, you have Rhode Island and New Hampshire with no sales tax, and we really want to make the state more competitive to keep your business here,” Yranski said.
The group is beefing up its advocacy team, adding three to its Washington, D.C., location and two regional managers to take on such issues as tariffs, invasive species and fuel policy.
The NMMA is adding three to its Washington, D.C., team, and has also named Lee Gatts as policy and engagement manager focusing on the Southeast. A Great Lakes manager will come on board next month, Gatts said.
Gatts will focus on such issues as Everglades restoration, and his Great Lakes counterpart will be invested in invasive species legislation and other issues affecting the region.
The NMMA made significant progress on its legislative efforts last year, Yranski said, as various facets of the industry came together and spoke with a unified voice and message. That was also done by connecting legislators with marine business owners in various districts so they could see first-hand the impact the marine industry has on their constituent and in the local economy, Yranski said.
Jamy Madeja, legal counsel and government relations adviser to the Massachusetts Marine Trades Association, outlined state issues starting with workforce development and sales taxes on boats.
“We are the only state in the region that still taxes boats at full sales tax,” Madeja said. “We want our jobs back. We lost, I would guess, tens of thousands, if not more than that, to Rhode Island overnight practically when they repealed their sales tax on boats.”
Dredging is another issue that needs local attention. “It’s like not plowing your highways” after a big snow, Madeja said. “You have to do it if you want commerce. If you didn’t plow your highways, the businesses would go berserk. Not dredging is like not plowing your highways.”
The final topic addressed was climate change. “Respectfully, we don’t care why there’s climate change,” Madeja said. “That is not this organization. We don’t look backward to see how did we get here. We look forward to, what do we do next?”