Last week, NMMA held its second Florida advocacy fly-in, serving as a critical component of the association’s strategic plan to bolster advocacy efforts in key states and regions. Eighteen stakeholders participated in the event, where they attended issue briefing sessions and met directly with key legislators and decisionmakers on pressing policy issues facing the recreational boating industry.
The November advocacy event comes on the heels of a highly successful 2019 legislative session. Most notably was the passage of the Uniform Certificate of Title Act (HB 475/SB 676), which was championed by Senator Ed Hooper and Representative Jayer Williamson. Much like Carfax, the legislation strengthens Florida’s vessel titling process to add significant consumer protections, helping boaters avoid unwittingly purchasing a stolen or previously damaged vessel.
With the 2020 legislative session on the horizon, last week’s advocacy fly-in focused on issues that are expected to be addressed when Florida legislators convene early next year, including clean water initiatives, infrastructure upgrades, fishing access, and establishing an Office of Outdoor Recreation. Participants met with nearly three dozen lawmakers and agency officials to discuss the industry’s positions on these key issues.
Prior to the meetings, stakeholders heard from key boating industry champions, including Representative Holly Raschein, who received the Boating Advocate of the Year award for her tireless commitment to advancing the industry’s positions. Chief among Representative Raschein’s accomplishments are passing critical derelict vessel legislation during the 2016 and 2019 legislative sessions and directing the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to assume the dredge and fill permitting program from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The fly-in participants also applauded Representative Raschein and Senator Debbie Mayfield, Chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Environment and General Government, for successfully shepherding Governor Ron DeSantis’s $625 million environmental budget last session. Given the significant and direct impact that recent water quality woes have had on Florida’s boating industry, NMMA has been a vocal advocate for Governor DeSantis’ aggressive environmental agenda. Additionally, industry stakeholders thanked Senate Majority Leader and future Senate President Kathleen Passidomo and House Majority Leader Dane Eagle for their continued support of recreational boating policy priorities.