Local Policy: Washington's Big (Tent) Day and State Bills We're Following

Between trade show news and attacks on our national public lands, it’s easy to miss some of the recreation policy work happening close to home. OIA’s Local Recreation Advocacy Manager Cailin O’Brien-Feeney provides a state legislative update.

By Cailin O'Brien-Feeney March 1, 2017

The start of a new year is always a sprint. That feels especially true following the 2016 elections as OIA’s government affairs team begins reaching out to a new group of elected leaders.

In addition to new leadership in Washington, D.C., 12 governors have been inaugurated since January 1, and several state legislative sessions have begun. As part of OIA’s state and local government affairs work, we are reaching out to these new administrations, working on various bills favorable to our policy agenda and laying the groundwork for future wins.

Read the 2017 OIA Policy Agenda here.

Washington’s Big Tent

Screen Shot 2017-02-27 at 11.02.43 AM

Click to read full story

On February 15, 2017, OIA joined hundreds of outdoorists, including consumers and 60 vendors and organizations, in Olympia, Washington, to celebrate and educate lawmakers about the state’s outdoor recreation economy. The fifth-annual rally was held under a big tent on the capitol lawn, where members of Washington’s Big Tent Coalition and partner organizations highlighted their work. Speakers including the governor and the state lands commissioner addressed the crowd and lauded the role of recreation on the state’s economy. In conjunction with the rally, members of the coalition and OIA, including REI, Cascade Designs, Superfeet and Nikwax, made the rounds to state representatives’ and senators’ offices in support of strong funding for Washington’s Wildlife and Recreation Program.

Learn more about the Big Tent Coalition.


State Bills We’re Watching

Connecticut: Much of the recent conversation and controversy around public lands has been centered in the West. But Eastern states are considering the issue, too. The Connecticut legislature will consider a bill—Resolution 16-1—during the 2017 session that would amend the state constitution to require a public comment period and two-thirds vote of the general assembly before state lands can be sold or transferred. If passed, this bill would bring Connecticut’s process in line with some other states in New England. The bill passed both chambers of the state legislature in 2016. In order to make it onto the November 2018 ballots for voters to approve, it must pass a second vote in this year’s legislative session. Read the text of the resolution that passed last year.

Montana: A bill in Montana would study the impacts of outdoor recreation on the state economy. This is, essentially, a state version of the REC Act. We’ve seen bipartisan bills like this one pass and be used to great effect in other states. In addition, Outdoor Industry Association conducts a study and releases recreation economy reports every four years. A new national report will be released this spring with state reports to follow beginning in the summer of 2017. Read more about HJ 7.

Download OIA’s 2012 Montana Outdoor Recreation Economy Report

 An updated report will be released in summer 2017.


New Mexico: Economic development and tourism are inextricably linked, especially in places like New Mexico, where our industry generates $6.1 billion and supports 68,000 jobs*. House Bill 0485 proposed, therefore, to combine what are currently two separate departments into a single economic development and tourism department. Read more about HB 0485.

Download the 2012 New Mexico Outdoor Recreation Economy Report.

An updated report will be released in summer 2017.

Oregon: On Monday, February 27, a public hearing was held on House Bill 2143, which proposes designating the second Saturday in June of each year as Oregon Outdoor Recreation Day. In testimony that OIA member company Mazama submitted for the hearing, Executive Director Lee Davis explained, “We all agree this bill is an excellent step toward encouraging more people to experience the great outdoors and eventually become stewards of our recreation treasures.” Outdoor Industry Association also submitted the 2012 Oregon Outdoor Recreation Economy Report to the hearing materials. Read more about HB 2143.

Download the 2012 Oregon Outdoor Recreation Economy Report.

An updated report will be released in summer 2017.