House holds hearing on “monumental legislation”

WASHINGTON – The Workforce Protection Subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives Education and Workforce Committee held a “successful and enthusiastic hearing” on the Recreational Marine Employment Act, the National Marine Manufacturers Association said in a press release Thursday.

The bill, H.R. 1329, was proposed by NMMA and sponsored by Rep. Ric Keller (R-Fla.). It is intended to amend the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act to exclude the recreational marine industry from what the NMMA described as “its costly and duplicative mandatory insurance requirements.”

The subcommittee hearing is the first step in making the Recreational Marine Employment Act a law.

Witnesses delivering testimony on behalf of NMMA included: Kristina Hebert, vice president of Operations at Ward’s Marine Electric and vice president of the Marine Industries Association of South Florida; Larry Nelson, chairman and vice president of Westport Shipyard and Ian Greenway of LIG Marine Managers.

“I am delighted that NMMA members had this opportunity to make their case to Congress with respect to the need to amend the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act,” said Monita Fontaine, NMMA vice president of Government Relations. “RMEA is one of the most important legislative issues facing the marine manufacturing industry today. Its passage will do a great deal to improve the business climate for the entire industry.”

Rep. Keller said he learned of the issue from a group of concerned marine industry employers who visited him in his district office. He closed his statement by saying, “The Recreational Marine Employment Act is the first update of the Longshore Act in twenty years. It’s about creating jobs, it’s about common sense, and it’s about time.”

“Congress never intended the LHWCA to apply to the recreational marine industry,” said subcommittee vice-chairwoman Judy Biggert (R-Ill.) in her opening remarks. “Exempting the recreational marine industry is a positive step forward to help America’s beleaguered manufacturing sector and helps to save American jobs.”

Rep. Judy Biggert (R-Ill.), vice-chairwoman on the subcommittee presided over the hearing. Reps. Ric Keller (R-Fla.), John Kline (R-Minn.), George Miller (D-Calif.), Major Owens (D-N.Y.), and Donald Payne (D-N.J.) were also in attendance.

The timing of the next step is uncertain at this time, but NMMA said it will continue to advocate for speedy passage.

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