Lobbying yields big pay-off in N.H.
Friday, December 14, 2012
Posted by: Matt Gruhn
WASHINGTON, D.C. – When John Irwin
of Irwin Marine, Laconia, N.H., joined his fellow MRAA members at the 2012
American Boating Congress in April, he developed a plan to make the most of his
time with legislators on Capitol Hill. Irwin reviewed the issue briefs provided by
the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas, called his state
association’s lobbyist to find out which issues were most critical to
the health of local and state-wide marine businesses and then picked four
issues to focus on.
One of those four was the Federal
Sport Fish and Boating Trust Fund, a talking point that nearly every ABC participant
addressed with their respective members of Congress. As of last spring, there
were no state-owned boat ramps or docks on Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire’s
largest lake. The majority of open public access to the lake was reliant on
privately owned marinas and boat yards that service the lake. But thanks in part to the conversations that Irwin has had, that has now
changed (to the delight of the public and marina owners alike).
Since Irwin’s meeting with Sen.
Jeanne Shaheen, Sen. Kelly Ayotte, Rep. Frank Guinta and Rep. Charles Bass
during ABC, the N.H. Fish and Game Department has purchased a private marina
known as Downing’s Landing at the southern tip of Alton Bay, according to an
article in the Nashua Telegraph
published on Nov. 27th. This purchase will vastly improve water access, which
benefits the area’s marine businesses as well as tourism in Central New
"A lion’s share of the funds for
this project came from the Federal Sport Fish and Boating Trust Fund that we
were lobbying for when MRAA was in Washington in the spring,” says Irwin. "It’s
very exciting to know that my efforts in personally meeting with our two U.S.
senators and two Congressmen made a difference here in New Hampshire.”
In 2012, MRAA co-sponsored ABC for
the first time and held a strategic planning session for its Board of Directors
and Young Leaders Advisory Council in Washington, D.C., immediately prior to the
MRAA plans to expand its
involvement in the 2013 American Boating Congress, which will take place May
8-9 at The Liaison Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Educational sessions
designed to appeal to marine retailers, including a session on how to maximize
the opportunity represented by the event’s hill visits, will take place on the
morning of May 9th, before Irwin and other MRAA members go back to The Hill to remind members of Congress how important boating is to their
"I think it’s easy to feel like
you can’t make a real difference on federal and even state issues, and so some
dealers might not make an event like ABC a priority,” says Irwin. "But this
demonstrates that each of us CAN make a difference. In fact, I’d go a step
further and say that if we as dealers are serious about the future success of
our businesses, we NEED to come together with the industry and make our voice
heard, and ABC is the perfect place to do that.”
About Marine Retailers Association of the Americas
Celebrating its 40th
anniversary in 2012, the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas is the
only North American association dedicated to furthering the interests of boat
and engine dealers and other marine-related retailers throughout North America.
Under the umbrella of MRAA Rewards, the MRAA offers a host of cost-saving,
revenue-generating, business-improvement, and professional-development benefits
exclusively for its members. MRAA is the united voice of marine retailers. For
more information, visit www.MRAA.com.