American Boating Congress in Washington June 18, 2014
Each spring marine industry representatives from around the nation converge on Washington DC to show our representatives the far reaching impact of recreational boating as an industry and to educate lawmakers on issues which challenge our businesses. Hosted annually by the National Marine Manufacturers Association and supported by over 38 industry related trade organizations, this May’s American Boating Congress was well attended including MIASF president, Kristina Hebert and many of our local association partners.
MIASF specific issues this year included the All Aboard Florida rail project and future rail expansion as well as the successful passage of HR 3896 to correct the US Department Of Labor’s definition of a recreational vessel as it applies to the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. The recreational repair industry was excluded from this Act in 2009 as part of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009. HR3896 seeks to reestablish this exclusion through a definition clarification, once again allowing small businesses in the repair industry to gain workers compensation for their employees through the state compensation system.
President Kristina Hebert accompanied MIASF Anchor Member Steve Baum of DS Hull/Boat Owners’ Warehouse to a private meeting with Congresswoman Lois Frankel to discuss the impacts of future rail projects on our industry, specifically the New River bridge, as well as mitigation strategies. Much of the future strategy depends upon the outcome of the pending EIS. As defined on the Department of Transportation, Federal Railroad Administration’s website, “The NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) requires Federal agencies to prepare environmental impact statements (EISs) for major Federal actions that significantly affect the quality of the human environment. An EIS is a full disclosure document that details the process through which a transportation project was developed, includes consideration of a range of reasonable alternatives, analyzes the potential impacts resulting from the alternatives, and demonstrates compliance with other applicable environmental laws and executive orders. The EIS process in completed in the following ordered steps: Notice of Intent (NOI), draft EIS, final EIS, and record of decision (ROD).
There are many facets to our industry and equally as diverse an array of issues. Our partner associations addressed issues important to their segments of the industry.
US Superyacht Association, USSA, as part of the ComeSeaUS campaign, advocated for three issues including the modification of the process to extend a cruising license for an additional year without the need to leave the US for 15 days in order to renew; the applicability of MARAD shipyard grant funding to be applicable to recreational shipyards that do not necessarily perform commercial work; and to explore the viability of a US owner of a US built yacht measuring over 300 gross tons to have the option of flagging the yacht US.
Florida Yacht Brokers Association, FYBA, spent their efforts this year advocated to allow foreign flagged used vessels to pay duty post-sale rather than pre-sale. FYBA believes this action would result in more vessels visiting the US and the extension of the stay of those currently visiting. The present rules do not allow vessels to be shown nor sold to US residents while in US waters.
Marine Retailer’s Association of America, MRAA’s main focus was to work toward reauthorization of the Sport Fish Restoration & Boating Trust Fund and the fight against an increase in ethanol levels in our fuels. MRAA’s board, YLAC, staff and general members held several good meetings with legislators, and are optimistic those meetings had positive outcomes.
American Boat Builders & Repairers Association, ABBRA, Major issues are more regulatory than legislative. Clean air and water regulations and enforcement were the focus of ABBRA president, John Fitzgerald and board member Mike Keyworth.
The conclusion of the American Boating Congress does not mark the end to MIASF’s activities on the Federal level. Our lobbyist, Duncan Smith, Smith Advocacy Group will continue with additional meeting and follow up on our behalf as we approach successful results to concerns.