MIASF legislative initiatives in review February 24, 2016
MIASF is working on a variety of legislative issues this year, including All Aboard Florida’s use of the rail bridge over the New River, creation of a Foreign Trade Zone, longshore insurance, federal job classifications and more.
The access of the New River and sharing the space with the railroad bridge has been a major concern, particularly to our marine businesses west of the bridge and the access for their customers. MIASF took the initiative and installed cameras to monitor the vessel and train traffic. The results of the monitoring together with ongoing discussion with representatives from the railroad, elected officials, and the U.S. Coast Guard resulted in a temporary rule by USCG requiring the bridge in the open position 60 minutes of every 120 minutes and the installation of a bridge tender. This rule is currently in the process of becoming a permanent regulation. MIASF is continuing the video monitoring at this time.
MIASF is currently working with the city of Fort Lauderdale to create the opportunity for waterfront areas within Broward County to become a Foreign Trade Zone. This would provide dealers and yacht brokers the opportunity to keep their inventory in the foreign trade zone without being responsible for duty until a sale occurs in the U.S. Details are still being worked out, but we are confident we will have a plan in place later this year.
On a similar track, MIASF has formed a small group of members to regularly meet with Customs and Border Patrol to discuss challenges visiting captains and crew report related to entry and visa issues. Developing this relationship has resulted in a positive experience for everyone and the clear open line of communication has resulted in fewer misunderstandings and better familiarity with the regulations for visiting crew.
The 2015 legislative session resulted in a success with the passing of the sales tax cap for refits and repairs. The cap is reached at $60,000 in tax paid. MIASF lobbyists Floridian Partners did an outstanding job guiding this regulation through the legislative process. We are already receiving reports of vessels relocating to Florida for major refits as a result of the savings.
The burden of USL&H insurance, better known as longshore insurance, to the recreational small business continues to be an issue MIASF is working to alleviate. There is currently a bill in the legislature, HB 436, addressing the issue. The MIASF legislative chair, Kristina Hebert, is in DC monthly working with our lobbyist, Duncan Smith of Smith Advocacy Group.
Identifying the vast type of jobs within the recreational marine has always been a challenge. MIASF has partnered with National Marine Manufacturers Association, BoatUS and other marine trade organizations in an effort to improve the U.S. government’s jobs classification. We will be working collaboratively to ensure that the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics has up-to-date data on all the jobs in the recreational marine industry, enabling the industry, researchers, government officials and others to have a more accurate understanding of the industry’s economic impact.
On a local note, Bahia Mar is in the approval process for a redevelopment and the city of Fort Lauderdale has instructed the developer to reach a long-term agreement for the boat show as a condition of any approval.