AHA! The National ARVC Q2 Advocacy Update
Time is flying by as we are now at the 6-month mark of 2023. And fly in we did, in the first week of June to Washington, D.C. with a very focused National ARVC delegation for meetings with nearly 50 key Members of Congress and their staff on the “Hill”. We also joined our partners at RVIA for the annual RV’s Move America week. National ARVC focused on advocating specifically for support for the Death Tax Repeal Act of 2023, sponsorship and reintroduction of legislation for a cure period for web ADA compliance and inclusion of EV infrastructure funding for the outdoor hospitality sector.
There is a lot going on, such as the re-introduction of the Credit Card Competition Act of 2023 in the U.S. Senate and House. This legislation would create competition in the credit card processing market, giving owners choices to help them with the rapidly rising "swipe fees" charged to small businesses that accept credit cards. As always, we will keep you in the loop as these bills move through the various committees. But what else is going on? This issue of AHA! will make sense of a few of the most important and often complicated legislative issues that are relevant to you and the work we're doing.
3 AHA! Moments
The things you must know for the second quarter of 2023
A Full Day for Advocacy
Each year, a focused National ARVC delegation, joined by their partners at RVIA, attend Advocacy Day, in Washington, D.C., a time aimed for the team to address crucial issues affecting businesses in the outdoor hospitality industry. This year, National ARVC scheduled meetings outside the parameters of Advocacy Day, transforming the time on Capitol Hill into a full week of meetings instead of a single day. Three big industry issues addressed were the Death Tax Repeal Act of 2023, Fair Legislation for ADA Compliance, and Expanding America’s EV Charging Network.
4 Major Trends Affecting US Summer Travel
Based on the analysis conducted using Tourism Economics' travel forecasting model, the latest U.S. Travel Forecast presents the following findings:
Domestic leisure travel is gradually returning to pre-pandemic levels in 2023, and it is anticipated to continue this trend and fully recover by 2024 and beyond.
The recovery of domestic business travel is expected to persist, albeit at a slower pace than initially predicted. This is primarily influenced by prevailing economic conditions.
Business travel volume is not anticipated to fully bounce back until 2025, and the forecast indicates that adjusted spending, accounting for inflation, will not reach pre-pandemic levels within the projected timeframe.
International inbound travel is predicted to witness a robust recovery, surpassing previous estimations. The growth is attributed to a significant increase in visitors from Canada and a more favorable recovery outlook from key overseas markets such as Brazil and China. However, a complete recovery of inbound travel is not projected until 2025.
Additionally, U.S. Travel has released a supplementary report in slide deck format alongside the travel forecast table which offers a contextual understanding of the latest projections. Access the report here.
Accessible Toilet Room Requirements
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) Accessibility Standards addressed various elements and features of toilet rooms that ensure everyone, including people with disabilities, have access to restrooms. This session reviewed the requirements for single-user and multi-user toilet rooms, including those for water closets, toilet compartments, urinals, lavatories, signage, clearances, maneuvering space, and amenities, such as baby-changing tables. This event was recorded and is archived here.
Wins That Are Worth Bragging About
Advocacy Day 2023 Was Bigger and Better Than Ever
It was actually more than just 24 hours, it was a whole week of advocacy on Capitol Hill this year! The National ARVC delegation, accompanied by their RVIA partners, participates in Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C. every year. This event serves as an opportunity to tackle significant challenges that impact businesses in the outdoor hospitality industry.
“We have been doing this trip for years, with much success, but this year we wanted to elevate our game,” says Paul Bambei, President and CEO. “We have made huge strides in the past on national issues affecting our industry, including most recently ensuring status for RV parks and campgrounds as ‘essential business’ in the eyes of the federal government.”
The event gathered industry leaders and officials to discuss and advocate for significant policy changes with members of Congress on “the Hill”. With a focus on three key areas, namely death tax repeal, fair legislation regarding ADA compliance, and the expansion of electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure, National ARVC aimed to foster accessibility, promote sustainable transportation, and support small business owners.
Details of the industry issues addressed:
1. Death Tax Repeal Act of 2023:
National ARVC emphasized the devastating impact of estate taxes on small, family-owned businesses, stating that these taxes force them to sell family assets and compromise the American Dream. The organization highlighted the urgent need for permanent repeal of the estate tax to help these businesses thrive. By supporting Senate Bill 1108, National ARVC aims to empower small businesses, facilitate job creation, expand operations, and stimulate the nation's economy.
2. Fair Legislation for ADA Compliance:
Recognizing the burden imposed by serial lawsuits related to ADA Title III compliance, National ARVC called for fair, common-sense, legislation that allows businesses to resolve compliance issues before facing legal repercussions. National ARVC believes that removing barriers to accessibility, as intended by the ADA, should take precedence over litigation.
3. Expanding America's EV Charging Network:
National ARVC emphasized the vital role that private RV parks and campgrounds can play in expanding the country's EV charging infrastructure. Given their strategic locations along highways, rural areas, and gateway communities to public lands, these private establishments are well-positioned to support the Biden administration's goal of building a national network of 500,000 EV chargers. National ARVC proposed a pilot program, involving public-private partnerships, to install EV chargers in publicly accessible locations at private RV parks and campgrounds. They called on officials to consider partnering and leveraging public and private funding to install 100 EV chargers at 50 select locations in 2024, with the program expanding to 1,000 installations nationwide in 2025.
The State of the States
Legislative Updates from Our State Executives
Arizona (AZ ARVC)
It’s been a busy session in Arizona - and the legislature is still in session. Again, it’s the bills that are probably not going pass that are often the most important. These included:
Source of Income: If this had passed, a property owner could not discriminate against a possible tenant due to the tenant’s source of income. If the person is receiving any sort of local, state or federal funds (including unemployment) that qualifies them to rent the property, the property owner must accept them.
Rent Control Bills: There were 5 bills regarding controlling rent on different types of properties; luckily, it appears none of them will pass.
Tenants’ Use of Marijuana: Although the federal law still states the use of marijuana is illegal, it is legal to sell it in Arizona. This was a proposed law prohibiting a landlord from evicting a tenant due to the tenant’s use of marijuana.
Bills that did pass and were signed by the Governor:
Due in large part to 3 parks closing in Phoenix (one of which had several RV’s), the amount of the money a park model owner can receive from the state Relocation Fund when a park closes to help pay for moving their home wa increased from $4,000 to $6,000. If they choose not to move the home, they can sign over a free and clear title to the landlord and receive $2,400 cash from the Fund. This was signed with an emergency clause and was retroactive to the date the residents in those 3 parks received their 180 day notice of park closure so they are entitled to this increased amount.
Small business taxes: The tax rate on Arizona small business taxable income in reduced to 2.5% beginning with 2023 (previously was 2.8%).
Bills not yet passed, but still being considered:
Requirement to Accept Cash: As originally written, this bill would have required any business with an office in Arizona to accept cash for payment unless they had a written contract with a customer stating the type of payment they would accept. This would have meant that if about 20 to 30 guests came in on a Friday and all paid for one month in cash, a manager could be holding over $10,000 in cash over the weekend. When you go to deposit over $10.000 cash, there is paperwork to be completed at the bank. Luckily many of different businesses fought this and, if it passes, the bill presently states you only have to accept up to $100 in cash for any transaction.
RVIC + ICOA Blocks Bill, Saves Campgrounds Money
The Indiana General Assembly wrapped up its legislative session Friday, April 28. HB 1645 was a utility receipt tax on the provision of water utility services, and a corresponding use tax on the consumption of water utility services. This would have applied to campgrounds and manufactured home communities. RVIC +ICOA was able to stop the bill from getting a hearing in the House Ways & Means Committee, which killed the bill for the 2023 legislative session.
5/25/23 Legislative Update – Deb Hart MECOA Lobbyist
LD 24 (SP 16), An Act to Prohibit Open Burning Under a Red Flag Warning and Regulate Recreational Campfires
The legislation defines a ‘Red Flag Warning’ and prohibits the director from issuing a permit or other permission for open burning when such a warning is in effect. The bill also defines a ‘recreational campfire’ and makes clear it includes a residential fire contained within an outdoor fireplace. It further provides that a person who kindles or uses such a campfire may not allow it to exceed 3 feet in diameter on the ground or at its base of the fire or 3 feet in height.
MECOA worked with the Maine Forest Service to identify ways to address specific concerns of MECOA prior to the bill having a public hearing.
PUBLIC LAW Chapter 56, signed by the Governor on May 8, 2023
LD 53 (HP 28), An Act to Ensure Accountability for Workplace Harassment and Assault by Removing Intentional Acts and Omissions from Workers’ Compensation Exemptions.
Currently employers are immune from certain actions under the Workers’ Comp system. This bill would remove the exemptions for an intentional act or omission.
W/S. 4/4/23 Divided Report
LD 281, An Act to Require Ski Area Safety Plans and Reporting
This bill sets up an aggressive ski area safety and reporting mechanism relative to death or injuries. It requires a ski area to annually create a safety plan for the ski area and make that plan accessible to the public. MECOA was asked to weigh in as they did in the past as part of the Maine Tourism Alliance.
Voted Ought Not to Pass 4/5/23
BILL is DEAD
A long desired and exciting development is that KPOA now has a Legislative Affairs Committee (LAC). This is a grassroots effort to improve protections or rights for Kansas’ privately owned outdoor hospitality businesses. This committee of five members will monitor the bills and outline KPOA's position statement when necessary. They also hope to gain sponsors for two bills the members have requested: ejection of a guest, and immunity from inherent risks of camping. As a grassroots effort, this committee will call upon all park members when its time to garner support for our positions as hearings draw near. Additionally, Kelly McKenzie (Abilene) and Aaron Dreher (Hays) are now assisting KPOA as delegates to the Travel Industry Association of Kansas (TIAK), the organization which focuses on advocacy for the tourism sector. The next legislative session begins on the second Monday in January (1/8/2024).
South Dakota (SDCOA)
SDCOA ended the 2023 legislative session with three issues in focus for the 2024 session. One bill was desired in 2023, but we accepted the prime sponsor's suggestion to postpone it. Already, it has been submitted, and one more has been negated during a meeting with the House Majority Leader. Having now accomplished those matters, the third one now has our full focus. This one has been on our plate for two full sessions now, although it was never submitted. We've since been introduced to the players who will need to support it, and our networking has begun. Sometimes it's worth the wait, and we hope this is one of those times. The next legislative session begins on the second Tuesday in January (1/9/2024).
We are monitoring the following legislative activities in Trenton:
-Tourism Attraction Signage
-Firearms Carry Permits
-Working Papers for Minors
-Tourism Improvement District funding
-Next fiscal year budget
All Senate and Assembly seats are up for reelection in November.
Ohio State Budget Process On-Going
The first half of odd numbered years in Ohio are dominated by debate on the state’s biennial budget bill. The process starts with the Governor’s proposal, which has been introduced as House Bill 33. The House passed their version of the proposal in April by a vote of 77-19. The House made some significant changes to the Governor’s proposal. The bill is now being considered by the Ohio Senate, who is expected to make significant additional changes. The process will culminate with a conference committee in June to craft a final bill for enactment.
Some notable changes in the House were regarding tax policy. The House version reduces, beginning in tax year 2023, the number of income tax brackets, by consolidating the lowest bracket (2.765% for income between $26,050 and $46,100) with the second lowest bracket (3.226% for income between $46,100 and $92,150). Reduces the rate of that new lowest bracket to 2.75%. The Senate will also be looking at tax policy and could propose even great reductions.
The House version of the budget does retain the H2Ohio funding levels proposed by the Governor. This multiagency initiative is designed to ensure Ohio’s waterways are healthy and thriving. However, the House did significantly reduce line items for ODNR compared with what DeWine had requested. ODNR has indicated that the $16 million reduction in the Parks and Recreation line item would impact their ability to attract and retain natural resources officers.
Ohio Invest in State Park Campgrounds
Ohio is utilizing a large portion of their ARPA funds to upgrade and expand state park services and amenities. This includes their state park campgrounds, for example a new campground at Shawnee State Park. The Ohio Campground Owners Association has been working with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to identify strategic opportunity to benefit all of camping and our customers.
Oil and Gas Drilling in State Parks
The Ohio legislature enacted changes to how oil and gas leases are approved by ODNR during the 2022 lame duck session through House Bill 507. The Department has finalized their rules and has opened the application process for drilling permits. On the first day that the portal was opened, the state received 8 applications for drilling for oil and gas on state lands. You can read coverage regarding latest on the application process here.
Nothing here in MA legislatively beyond waiting on an Executive Director to be named for our newly formed Outdoor Rec Office since last fall. Cyndy Zbierski, President, MACO
Funny you Should Ask
What is the difference between bipartisan and bicameral support in the U.S. Congress?
Bipartisan support is when all political parties are in agreement on a specific bill or issue.
Bicameral support is when both the Senate and House of Representatives are in agreement on a specific bill or issue.