The Top 5 Legislative Issues at ABC

These are the central issues to be discussed during the 2011 American Boating Congress, being held May 4 and 5 in Washington, D.C., according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association, which produces the legislative conference.

1. Rebuilding the Congressional Boating Caucus:
The 112th Congress began this year with the Republican Party enjoying a 242-193 majority with 63 new Republicans taking office. The Democrats retained control of the Senate but with a smaller majority. Republicans picked up 6 seats, leaving Democrats with a slim 53-47 majority. Hill visits will be particularly important this year as NMMA members start building relationships with new Members of Congress and their staffs.

2. Ethanol: We continue to pursue litigation efforts and work with our allies on the Hill to stop legislative efforts that speed up the introduction of E15 into the marketplace. We also continue to seek avenues to slow down the EPA implementation of the E15 fuel waiver.

3. Reauthorization of Wallop-Breaux: Wallop-Breaux captures revenue from the part of the federal fuel tax attributable to motorboat and small engine use. It will be reauthorized during this Congress as part of the reauthorization of the Federal Highway Trust Fund (FHTF). This will reauthorize the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund (SFRBTF), which funds important angling and boating programs such as fisheries monitoring; habitat conservation and restoration; fishing and boating access facilities such as docks, piers, and boat ramps; and education and safety programs for anglers and boaters. NMMA is part of the Angling and Boating Alliance (ABA), a coalition of key angling and boating groups advocating for Wallop-Breaux’s reauthorization.

4. Mandatory Wear of Life Jackets: NMMA continues to work with the Coast Guard and Army Corps of Engineers to make sure that any new regulations mandating that adults wear life jackets are done through a transparent process with ample time for feedback from all stakeholder groups and boaters.

5. Clean Boating Act Best Practices: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will brief the industry on the status of efforts to establish boaters’ best practices under the Clean Boating Act and the Marine Sanitation Device standard petition. EPA will also discuss water quality issues of mutual interest to recreational boaters and EPA, such as the fisheries/ecological and economic consequences of nutrient-related pollution in our nation’s lakes, estuaries, rivers and coastal areas.

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