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OIA in D.C. Notes from the Hill: April 2023

This past month, outdoor industry leaders, policymakers, and other key stakeholders convened in Washington, D.C. at OIA’s annual Capitol Summit to promote OIA’s policy agenda on climate, recreation, equity in the outdoors, international trade and the $862 billion outdoor recreation economy. We look forward to continuing to use our outdoor voices to fight for the outdoor economy and our entire planet.

Hosting Annual Capitol Summit

From April 18-19, OIA’s members met directly with members of Congress and other administration officials to discuss critical legislation that supports the entirety of the outdoor recreation economy, including key topics like trade, climate, access, and equity.

“This is an extraordinary opportunity for the outdoor industry to be heard,” said OIA President Kent Ebersole. “Since our last Capitol Summit in 2019, more than 10 million Americans participated in outdoor recreation for the first time, or for the first time in years. This increase in the number of people spending time outside was not merely a method for managing stress from lockdown during a global pandemic. We witnessed a multi-generational mind shift around the physical, mental, and emotional health benefits of spending time in nature, as over half of the U.S. population flocked to the outdoors.”

Key speakers at the Summit included Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and USDA Under Secretary for Rural Development Xochitl Torres-Small. Secretary Haaland kicked off the Summit to discuss the critical importance of the outdoor industry and thriving communities that rely on the restoration and health of our national parks and public lands and monuments. She specifically celebrated the successful investments to Bear Ears National Monument and Biden’s designation of the Castner Range National Monument in Texas and Avi Kwa Ame National Monument in southern Nevada. Under Secretary Torres-Small joined the Summit to highlight the great opportunities we have to further engage USDA and boost the outdoor recreation economy in rural areas.

The next day, we took to the Hill to meet with elected officials and discuss the importance of outdoor investments and other key issues.

Honoring Congressional Friends of the Industry

During the Capitol Summit, we were thrilled to announce and honor OIA’s Friend of the Industry Award recipients Representative Nanette Barragán, D-CA, chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the co-chair of the United for Climate and Environmental Justice Congressional Task Force; Representative Adrian Smith, R-NE, chair of the Trade Subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee; and Senator Joe Manchin, D-WV, chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, in recognition of their legislative leadership around outdoor recreation and their dedication to supporting the outdoor industry.

Insisting Destructive Tariffs be Lifted to Ease Burdens on American Businesses

OIA, along with the Americans for Free Trade coalition, a broad alliance of American businesses, trade organizations, and workers united against tariffs, submitted a written statement to the Senate Finance Committee and House Ways & Means Committee’s 2023 Trade Policy Agenda hearings. The statement called on Congress to insist that the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) make a products exclusions process available immediately and for as long as section 301 tariffs remain in place.

Since April 2018, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has assessed more than $173 billion in section 301 tariffs on American companies who import products from China. These taxes continue to create tremendous uncertainty, increase the cost of doing business in the U.S., and place an undue financial burden on American businesses – negatively impacting their ability to invest in their companies, hire more American workers, develop innovative technologies, and remain globally competitive.

Updating on State and Local Activity

During the Cap Summit, OIA highlighted our state policy platform and hosted a panel encouraging member companies and partners to explore more activism and investment in state-level advocacy. Joining the panel was VF Corporation’s Senior Director of Government Affairs Julie Sutton, Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office’s Director Conor Hall, and Maine Outdoor Brands Executive Director Jenny Kordick.

Another exciting component of the Cap Summit was the inclusion of state-based outdoor recreation directors from across the nation, who make up the Confluence of States. The Confluence met in Annapolis prior to the Summit to discuss the development of the network, the national and local outdoor recreation economy, and opportunities to further partner with outdoor industry partners. They took their initiatives to the Hill and met with pivotal stakeholders during the Summit like Dennis Alvord, deputy assistant secretary for economic development and chief operating officer for the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA), to discuss how EDA funding impacts communities and powers outdoor recreation economies across the U.S.