Sims: ARVC Has Good Presence At Advocacy Day

Jeff Sims

Editor’s Note: This column was written by Jeff Sims, director of state relations and program advocacy at the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC).

ARVC is maintaining a strong presence at several industry events across the country as part of our ongoing efforts to advocate for the best interests of ARVC members and the broader RV industry.

On June 6, ARVC joined our coalition partners at the RV Industry Association (RVIA) and the National RV Dealers Association (RVDA) on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. for RVIA’s 17th annual Advocacy Day.  RV industry coalition members visited congressional and agency offices to raise awareness of the RV industry and issues affecting the industry and ARVC members. Advocacy Day has raised the profile of the RV industry in the eyes of Congress and the administration.

“Advocacy Day makes a critical contribution to the association’s federal advocacy efforts by allowing our members to meet with their elected officials, advocate for industry priorities and raise the profile of the RV industry on Capitol Hill,” said Jay Landers, RVIA’s vice president of government relations.

There were 120 Advocacy Day attendees who participated in 170 meetings with members of Congress and staff.  Of those, ARVC had 13 attendees who participated in 46 meetings.

ARVC specifically requested support for the bipartisan Simplifying Technical Aspects Regarding Seasonality (STARS) Act, which will provide much-needed clarity around the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act’s (ACA’s) definition and treatment of seasonal workers.

Under the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, different definitions of “seasonal” are used when determining whether a business is a small or large employer under the law and when determining which employees must be offered health insurance. The STARS Act would define a “seasonal employee” as a worker who is employed on a seasonal basis for six months or less during the calendar year and apply that definition to all aspects of the law.

“What impressed me was the respect shown to us by members of Congress and their staff people and the interest shown in our issues and challenges,” says Al Johnson, ARVC chairman and manager of the Mt. Rushmore/Hill City Kampgrounds of America (KOA) in Hill City, S.D.

Tim Cartmell, of Honesdale/Pocono KOA in Honesdale, Pa., felt the meetings ARVC held gave him a chance to make a difference in our industry.

“Often as business owners we complain about how things should be different,” he noted. “Meeting with my members of Congress to seek support for bills that help the RV industry will and does matter.”

Along with our coalition partners at RVIA and RVDA, ARVC also presented the following requests:

Support funding for continuation and expansion of the Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account (ORSA) in Fiscal Year 2019 and beyond. In December 2016, Congress unanimously passed the “Outdoor Recreation Jobs and Economic Impact Act of 2016” directing the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) to conduct an assessment and analysis of the U.S. outdoor recreation economy and its contributions to the overall U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

In February 2018, BEA released a preliminary estimate of outdoor recreation’s impact on the U.S.

“The camping industry needs to do a better job of creating awareness of the economic impact and the revenue generated by the camping industry across the U.S.,” said Joann DelVescio, executive director of the New Jersey Campground Owners Association (NJCOA), who was in attendance as an ARVC representative. “Advocacy Day provides us with the opportunity to tout these facts and figures to our legislators.”

Support the bipartisan Recreation Not Red-Tape (RNR) Act. The act will improve access to outdoor recreation opportunities on federal public lands.

Among other provisions, the RNR Act expedites the special recreation permitting process, makes it easier for visitors to purchase federal land recreation passes, provides increased access for service members and veterans, and enhances and promotes private-sector volunteer programs. It also ensures that federal land managers are held accountable for increasing recreation in their areas and establishes a new National Recreation Area System to ensure that areas are set aside specifically for recreational uses.

Support the bipartisan National Park Restoration Act. An innovative solution to help overcome the more than $11 billion maintenance backlog in our national parks.

It creates the National Park Restoration Fund to provide funding for maintenance backlog and priority projects at national parks. The fund receives 50% of onshore and offshore revenues from energy production on federal lands over 2018 projections that are not allocated for other purposes such as the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).

Support increased investment in campgrounds on public lands and the use of private-public partnerships to address this need.

Support American-made RVs by encouraging members of Congress to voice their concerns to the U.S. Department of Commerce on the downstream impacts steel and aluminum tariffs have on U.S. manufacturing industries.

Support a change to the definition of “motor vehicle” in a future technical corrections bill to ensure that towable RVs are included in the floorplan interest financing deductibility, a tax benefit for dealers. The passage of comprehensive tax reform and the lowering of the corporate tax rate has benefited the RV industry and allowed the historic boom to continue. Unfortunately, a definition change in one section of the bill has unintentionally resulted in effectively removing travel trailers from the definition of “motor vehicle” for the purposes of floorplan financing interest deductibility.

Encourage members of Congress to support the $50 billion American-made RV industry and families that enjoy the RV lifestyle by joining the House or Senate RV Caucus.

Following a successful day on Capitol Hill, the ARVC representatives joined fellow Advocacy Day attendees, members of Congress and administration officials for an evening reception recognizing the RV Caucus members, our RV champions on Capitol Hill.

“It was a great experience seeing all segments of the RV Industry working together in Washington — campground owners and ARVC executives working alongside RV manufacturers and RV dealers to bring our message to Congress,” said Jim Calderbank, owner of Moonshine Creek Campground in Sylva, N.C. “The Senators, Congressmen and Congresswomen I spoke to were knowledgeable and engaged with issues impacting the RV industry in general and campgrounds in particular.”


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