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What dealers can expect from Washington, D.C., in 2013

Thursday, January 10, 2013   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Liz Walz
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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- On Thursday, January 3, the 113th Congress was gaveled into session with great hope for reduced polarization and paralysis, but with no real evidence that they’ll lift anytime soon.

Some say the worst is yet to come, but others point to the bi-partisan support of H.R. 8, the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 passed to resolve the tax issues of the fiscal cliff, as a key indicator of a willingness of the two parties to work together. H.R 8 provides about $600 billion in additional government revenues, but the president has already said he wants more tax revenue, and Republicans say tax increases are not on the table. These viewpoints set the stage for more polarization.

There will be hard fought discussions, and hopefully legislation that cuts government spending as the next phase of the fiscal cliff deal hits in the few weeks. Just look to the current news to see predictions the U.S. may default on its debt as soon as February 15 as the basis for the next battleground to demand deep federal spending cuts and hopefully a reduction in federal regulations.

On other issues, MRAA will be part of the team in Washington that negotiates a legislative compromise for re-authorization of the Sport Fish Restoration Trust Fund. The fund was re-authorized for two years in 2011, but may come up in Congress in 2014. 2013 will be spent working out legislation that fishing and boating groups can support. The $600 billion annual fund is key for sport fish restoration, fishing and boating outreach, boating access, education, and boating safety. MRAA wants to open the discussions with support for expanding the Clean Vessel Act to include the purchase of equipment to comply with Clean Marina programs and increased funding for outreach.

Other key issues will include protection of waterfront properties for marine usage, repeal of ethanol blend gasoline for boats at least at the E15 level, continued opposition to mandatory adult life jacket wear requirements, increased funding for dredging and an expansion of federal dredging funds for small boat harbors and channels used primarily for recreational boating and fishing.

The American Taxpayer Relief Act re-authorized the Estate Tax at 40%, an increase from the 35% in effect for the past few years. MRAA will continue its efforts to repeal the Estate Tax, but if that is not possible, at least reduce the maximum tax rate.

One of the most important issues facing marine retailers in 2013 will be Congressional efforts to reduce federal regulations and government control of small business. This will be a long and hard fought fight, but is a fight that must be pursued to greatly reduce the cost and complications of doing business.