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At the Helm: Are you paying attention?

By Jonathan Sweet

As part of my research for this issue, I recently spent a lunch hour listening to a webinar for small businesses on the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare).

What I heard surprised and scared me. I don‘t mean the details of the changes in our healthcare system – those I already knew about. It was the questions coming from the audience, which showed a complete lack of understanding about what was coming down the pike.

Hopefully you’re not in the same boat and already have a plan in place to deal with the law, which really swings into gear next year. If not, our coverage (linked here) is a good place to start. We’ve also included a list of some of the common questions about the law and places to get more information.

This is just one example of the complicated issues that will drastically affect many businesses here in the United States – many of them having to do with government action or regulations.

Obamacare is the exception – a high-profile Congressional battle that got plenty of attention. Most decisions that affect your business fly under the radar. Take, for example, E15. It’s getting plenty of attention now as the NMMA, MRRA and others inside and outside the industry try to address it, but many people didn’t notice the change to the Renewable Fuel Standard in 2007 that allowed it.

That’s why it’s so important to pay attention to what is going on in Washington. We’ve given you a crash-course in this issue on some of the big issues, but there are things happening there everyday that affect your business.

One of the best ways to stay informed is to take part in the American Boating Congress, the recreational boating industry’s annual Washington conference. This year’s conference is May 8-9 and will include representatives from both houses (and both parties) of Congress, the Obama administration, the U.S. Coast Guard and more. You can learn more at nmma.org/abc. NMMA has 30 co-hosts for this year’s conference, including Boating Industry.

It’s part of our increased dedication to covering government issues here at BI. Even if you can’t make it to D.C., you can stay informed by reading the latest information on BoatingIndustry.com or signing up for email alerts from the Washington offices of the NMMA and MRAA on their respective websites. The associations’ government staff has been on top of these issues and continue to do great work for the industry.

Once you’re informed, write your representative or senator. Constituent communication means more than lobbying efforts.

The same applies at the state and local level. Two great recent examples were the ability of the industry to get boat taxes reduced or capped in Florida and Kansas. That doesn’t happen without everyone weighing in.

It’s the responsibility of all of us in the industry.


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