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Good news from Washington

We would all like to hear some good news these days. And when I say there’s “good news from Washington,” I’ll bet you’re thinking I’ve smoked some bad stuff!  But the truth is in the last few days boating has received some good news from Congress.

Even as you read this today, hundreds of boating industry leaders are in Washington for the annual America Boating Congress (ABC) organized by the NMMA. They’re calling on members of the House and Senate to promote favorable legislative actions for our industry. For example, our anxious need get the “Clean Boating Act of 2008” (S. 2766) passed before the September deadline. Back to that issue in a moment.

But right now those at ABC are thanking members of the House for passing the Coast Guard Authorization Act (H.R. 2830) last Friday by an overwhelming 395 to 7 vote. Contained in that bill are two provisions that the boating industry has been after for years.

Good News #1: The bill contains Title V — The Ballast Water Treatment Act of 2008. Ever since the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway into the Great Lakes, ocean-going ships have introduced invasive species and organisms into the Lakes through their ballast water. And across the Great Lakes region there’s been a long and resounding call for a federal solution to this ballast mediated invasive problem. This bill will result in the most aggressive actions ever taken to end future invasive species problems in the Lakes.

Good News #2: The Coast Guard Authorization bill also contains a provision that provides a complete exemption for the service and repair sector of the recreational boating industry from the requirement for expensive coverage under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) as long as State workers’ compensation coverage is in place. Moreover, the bill also provides specific relief to manufacturers of recreational boats 165’ feet or under.

The boating industry should never have been forced under LHWCA by an atrocious bureaucratic ruling. For the past 6 years, the Marine Industries Association of South Florida has worked tirelessly to convince Congress to correct the problem. These efforts, while very important for the marine industry in South Florida, will positively impact the rest of the industry that sells and services large boats.

The Coast Guard bill now moves on the Senate where positive action seems likely this fall. But for today our industry can take a moment to applaud this advance.

Not so, however, with “The Clean Boating Act of 2008” (S. 2766). We can’t waste a moment in continuing to pressure Congress to move on this critical bill that will exempt pleasure boats from the impending requirement to obtain an EPA permit beginning this September!

You don’t have to go to Washington to help pass S. 2766. If you haven’t done so, yet, simply go to www.boatblue.org and get updated on this, the gravest issue to hit our industry since the luxury tax debacle. Then, follow the simple instructions to contact your Senator now. Time is running out to get Congress to move. Do it today!

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