There’s no shortage of policy issues to discuss when RV industry colleagues “storm Capitol Hill” at this year’s RVs Move America Week, set for June 2-6 in Washington, D.C., and hosted by the RV Industry Association (RVIA).
Previously known as “Committee Week,” the annual event is designed to showcase the strength of the industry in meetings with congressional and administration officials to forge relationships beneficial to business and discuss current issues affecting the industry. The week will also feature a series of RVIA committee meetings in which participants will collectively build a strategic roadmap for the association in particular and growth of the industry as a whole.
Committee meetings this year have been reduced to two hours — down from four hours last year — and the week itself has been rebranded “RVs Move America Week” to emphasize the impact of RVIA’s annual advocacy initiative and the industry’s economic impact. Related to this, an updated “RVs Move America Economic Impact Study” will be released this year on Capitol Hill in conjunction with the House and Senate RV Caucuses.
Jay Landers, RVIA vice president of government affairs, told RVBUSINESS.com that a number of key issues will be among the talking points for when industry colleagues meet with federal policymakers. Those issues include exclusionary items to be exempted from recent tariff increases, federal campground modernization and expansion, and floorplan interest financing deductibility.
Landers added that his team has also scheduled several meetings with “key committees that really drive the legislative work for the industry.”
“For example, we’re meeting with the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee because those are the committees that are addressing the deductibility of the dealer’s interest on the floorplan loans,” Landers said. “We’re also meeting with the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and the Senate Natural Resources Committee because these are the people who we’re going to push to try and get a recreation title within any kind of infrastructure bill.”
As mentioned, one issue among the talking points is the bill that would provide a fix for the floorplan deductibility issue affecting the RV industry. Recently introduced by Senators Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Angus King (I-Maine), the new bill would fix an error in the tax reform bill that inadvertently removed travel trailers from the definition of “motor vehicle” for the purposes of floorplan financing interest deductibility.
“We drove that, and we were able to have Jackie Walorski (R-Indiana) and a few Democrats join in to make it bipartisan so it doesn’t get kicked out immediately,” Landers mentioned.
Landers added that getting strong participation from membership to advocate on behalf of the industry is “critical” to help drive legislative issues.
Last year’s Advocacy Day was the best ever in terms of participation — 120 members holding 170 meetings with members of Congress, their staffs and administration officials — and all signs are pointing to another strong showing.
“It’s critical because a couple of things happen,” he said. “No. 1, after the meetings are done, it allows my team to get up on Capitol Hill and revisit with the legislators and their staffs to either follow up on questions they have or drive home the messaging and push for results.
“It’s also important to make sure that our members stay engaged in the process,” Landers continued. “I would tell you that there are legislators that I have spoken with, both at the federal and state level, who say ‘It only takes a handful of letters or communications for me to change my mind and change my vote on something.’ Plus — and this is coming straight from either a legislator or a former legislator — that gives them the cover to vote for or against something that we are advocating on.
“In terms of results,” he added, “yeah, we have a whole laundry list of action items that elected officials, especially the RV caucus, have helped us either pass or defeat or adjust to the industry’s benefit.”
Landers noted that much of what the RV industry advocates is meant to improve and enhance outdoor recreation opportunities, a topic that crosses all political divides.
“It’s perfect. It’s bipartisan. I mean, who does not like to recreate?” he said, noting that this enabled the Public Lands Package to receive overwhelming support earlier this year.
The largest public lands bill approved by Congress in more than a decade, the bill was passed by the House, 363-62, before being signed into law.
The wide-ranging bill revived a popular conservation program, added 1.3 million acres of new wilderness, expanded several national parks and created five new national monuments. The legislation combined more than 100 separate bills that designated more than 350 miles of river as wild and scenic and created nearly 700,000 acres of new recreation and conservation areas. The bill also withdrew 370,000 acres in Montana and Washington from mineral development.
“That was driven by Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR) and, of course, RVIA is the driving force behind ORR as well,” Landers said. “It’s legislative initiatives like that which allows members of Congress — who have a reputation of not doing much — to actually do something and bring that back to their constituents. ‘Look what we’ve done. We’re dedicating X amount of dollars to improve this park, or help open up a new trail, or some other kind of outdoor recreation and enterprise.’”