OIA's Government Affairs Priorities in 2017
Choppy waters don't scare Vice President of Government Affairs Alex Boian and his team. Their core policy goals haven't changed since November 8. Nor has their commitment to you, our members. Alex explains their plans to keep the ship steady and their vision for the year ahead.
Like most of the country, we had to adjust quickly to an unexpected outcome on November 8 and to the reality of a Donald J. Trump presidency.
We took a day to contemplate what it would mean for our industry, our country, our world and our lives.
And then we got back to work.
Fortunately, OIA has worked hard over the past several years to unite Democrats and Republicans around a nonpartisan love of America’s great outdoors. In 2016, our political action committee, OIAPAC, endorsed a slate of 20 federal Democrat and Republican candidates and two gubernatorial candidates who support the outdoor industry and the $646 billion recreation economy. Nearly all of them won their races.
Voters also supported more than $6 billion in state and local taxes to pay for recreation and conservation priorities in both urban and rural communities, further demonstrating that outdoor recreation can bridge many of our political and cultural divisions.
This bipartisan support for outdoor recreation and the recreation economy culminated at the end of 2016 when both the U.S. House and Senate passed the Outdoor Recreation Jobs and Economic Impact Act with unanimous, bipartisan support. This important legislation directs the federal government to officially analyze and report the recreation economy’s annual contribution to U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and positions the outdoor industry to be formally recognized for its economic might.
Though we don’t expect the first set of the government’s economic data to be reported until 2018—in fact, we are preparing the third version of OIA’s “Outdoor Recreation Economy Report” for an April 2017 release—the message of the outdoor industry’s economic power is resonating. The incoming administration, members of the 115th Congress and leaders across the country see the millions of American jobs our industry supports and the billions of dollars it contributes to states and local communities.
As we look ahead to 2017 and the outdoor industry’s relationship with the Trump administration, with an ambitious Republican-controlled Congress and state governments that are increasingly empowered to act independently from the federal government, we know that our bipartisan economic message will have traction.
Our commitment to you:
- We will continue our push for balanced trade policy that lowers costs for your business and your customers no matter where you make your products.
- We will continue to promote the idea that safe and sustainably produced products can also be profitable.
- We will impress upon policymakers that climate change is real and that the outdoor industry is among the first to witness its devastation. It is compounded by human activity that must immediately be addressed. It is an issue that cannot be dismissed or ignored.
- Above all, we will continue to speak loudly and clearly that the outdoor industry’s economic power is rooted in the conservation, protection and stewardship of America’s land and water, and that any threat to these special places—to our shared national heritage—will be met by a powerful and vigorous defense.
Despite all the unknowns about what the future may bring, we look forward with optimism and hope. There may be fights ahead, but we know, too, that there will be opportunity. We have already seen what happens when Democrats and Republicans come together in support of healthy communities and healthy economies: It’s a win for the outdoor industry, a win for the economy and a win for the American people. Together We Are a Force.