About Our Work
BoatUS government affairs manager David Kennedy and Morgan Neuhoff, our government affairs program coordinator, make the rounds of Congressional offices to advance legislation that's important to boating and sportfishing.
BoatUS uses the collective strength of its over 500,000 members to fight against unfair taxes and regulations, all the while advocating sound public policy that promotes safe, responsible boating.
The Government Affairs staff continually monitors legislation introduced in the U.S. Congress and federal regulations proposed by agencies such as the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Federal Communications Commission.
On any given issue, BoatUS staff may be involved in lobbying individual members of Congress, testifying before Congressional committees, meeting with agency staff, speaking out at public meetings and alerting BoatUS members to make their views known to lawmakers and regulators.
Major issues for BoatUS at the federal level are as diverse as boating safety funding and regulation, boating access and facilities enhancement, navigational charts, marine communications, channel maintenance, environmental policy, fisheries management, construction standards for boats and marine weather forecasting.
To strengthen and unify the voice of recreational boating, the Government Affairs Department often joins forces with other influential groups like:
- National Association of State Boating Law Administrators
- National Safe Boating Council
- U.S. Coast Guard's National Boating Safety Advisory Council
- U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary
- United States Power Squadrons
BoatUS also works very closely with industry organizations including:
- National Marine Manufacturers Association
- Association of Marina Industries
- American Boat & Yacht Council
- Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway Association
- as well as numerous state marine trade associations.
Coalition work is a crucial tool for BoatUS, some of the groups we are currently working with include:
- Smarter Fuel Future
- Angling & Boating Alliance
- GPS Innovation Alliance
- Outdoor Recreation Industry Roundtable
While BoatUS does not routinely lobby state legislatures, the Government Affairs staff closely follows boating issues at the state level that appear significant and keeps members informed of developments and trends through this Web site, BoatUS.com, BoatUS Magazine and press releases. On major state issues, such as state marine fuel taxes or mandatory education, BoatUS has submitted comments and testified in state legislatures.
The Government Affairs Department strongly encourages BoatUS members to get actively involved in boating issues on the state and local level because, in the end, it is local boaters and voters who will make the difference.
One of the founding goals of BoatUS in the 1960s was to bring the attention and resources of Congress, the U. S. Coast Guard and individual state governments to address the alarmingly high rate of boating accidents and fatalities.
Through the efforts of BoatUS founder Richard Schwartz, Congress passed the Federal Boat Safety Act of 1971, which established the Coast Guard's Recreational Boating Safety Program two years later. At the time, this landmark legislation was passed, boating fatalities were as high as 20.2 deaths per 100,000 boats. By 1998, the rate dropped to 6.5 deaths per 100,000 boats — even though the number of boats had more than doubled in two decades. The Coast Guard estimates that well over 23,000 lives have been saved as a result of this innovative program.
In addition, the legislation that BoatUS helped to craft over 40 years ago also established a milestone for the boating consumer. For the first time, manufacturers were held responsible for maintaining standards and correcting defects in boats as well as paying for recalls when hazardous defects were identified. Prior to this, boat owners were on their own and were responsible for making sure boat construction met the minimal standards that existed at the time.
BoatUS has served as a vigilant watchdog over the defect/recall program and most recently lobbied for and won millions of dollars in additional funding for the Coast Guard to reinstate its boat factory inspection program that had been defunct due to budget cuts since the 1990s.
For specific questions about boating issues or BoatUS Government Affairs, please e-mail the department at GovtAffairs@BoatUS.com