2020 Voters Guide
It’s Your Move
We have one word of advice for you this fall: Vote! Better yet: Vote informed. To help you get up to speed before you head to the polls, here’s the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) Voters Guide for some of the key races and issues for the outdoor community in the upcoming 2020 general election.
Elections matter, and a lot is at stake this year, including the presidency and control of Congress. It is critical that you get involved and vote on outdoor issues. We put this Voters Guide together to motivate you to learn more about the candidates and the issues they’ll face and to put people in office who will continue to grow the outdoor recreation economy.
Strength in Numbers
The numbers speak for themselves. The outdoor industry employs more than 7.6 million Americans, generates more than $887 billion in consumer spending and accounts for 2 percent of the United States GDP. OIA strives to increase participation, preserve public lands and waters, lower costs for outdoor businesses, help advance sustainable business practices and shape public policy. We need the right people in power to support our goals.
Feel the Power
Your vote matters. Stay informed—and not just before elections. And hold the candidates accountable. Be the difference. But first things first: Make a plan and get out and vote.
To help you get up to speed before you vote, we put together OIA’s Voters Guide to highlight some of the key races and issues facing the outdoor industry in the upcoming 2020 general election. This list is not exhaustive, though, so OIA encourages you to research all candidates and measures on your ballot to determine how they align with the priorities of the outdoorists and the outdoor recreation economy.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we have witnessed a surge in outdoor recreation. Americans, some for the first time, are taking the opportunity to take a break from screens, get some fresh air and enjoy the physical and mental benefits of time spent outdoors. With stay-at-home orders, most of our recreation in 2020 has been close to home, which, like so many other times throughout this pandemic, has illuminated the inequities of access and lack of safe and welcoming green places in urban and rural communities.
As we recover from the pandemic, OIA will support policies that will make public lands and waters a cornerstone of our economic recovery; incentivize businesses to take bold action to reverse the climate crisis; accelerate our nation’s transition to renewable energy; help create a stable and predictable trade policy, lowering costs for importers and domestic manufacturers alike; and help conserve public lands and waters while providing recreation opportunities for all Americans, especially close to where they live.
OIA Top Issues:
Climate change disrupts outdoor businesses and their supply chains and threatens the local, state and national economies that rely on our industry’s job creation and tax revenue. We support policies that promote the following:
- Incentivizing businesses to take bold action to reverse the climate crisis
- Preserving lands and waters as natural climate solutions
- Investing in urban parks and paths to build low-carbon, climate-resilient communities
- Accelerating the U.S. transition to renewable energy
Public Lands and Waters
The outdoor recreation economy depends on abundant, safe and welcoming public lands and waters. Outdoor access should be a right and not a privilege. The health of individuals, communities and our economy is tied to opportunities for everyone to experience the benefits of close-to-home parks, trails and open spaces. We support policies that promote the following:
- Making public lands and waters a cornerstone of economic recovery
- Recognizing public lands as an essential part of individual and community health
- Supporting new investments in recreation and green infrastructure, including Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and close-to-home recreation
- Conserving public lands and waters and making the outdoors accessible, equitable, welcoming and safe for everyone, regardless of geography, income or prior experience
- Protecting core conservation laws and reverse regulatory rollbacks
A stable and predictable federal trade policy is critical for helping outdoor companies lower costs, create U.S. jobs and fuel innovation. Consistent with a balanced trade policy that supports global value chains and domestic manufacturers, we urge Congress and the next administration to do the following:
- Eliminate the Section 301 China punitive tariffs
- Rejoin the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and pursuing new trade deals that also prioritize labor and environmental protections
- Renew and expand the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) and the miscellaneous tariff bill (MTB) process.
- Prioritize sustainable trade initiatives
Outdoor Industry Association supports candidates running for elected office in the United States who meet the following criteria:
- Outdoor Recreation Economy: Recognize the size, scope and impact of the outdoor recreation economy in their respective districts and states as well as at the federal level; legislate and vote in a manner that supports the $887 billion in consumer spending and 7.6 million sustainable American jobs generated by the outdoor recreation economy
- Conservation: Stand up for the conservation of state and federal public lands and waters; fight for conservation and infrastructure funding; work to make the outdoors accessible to everyone
- Trade: Support balanced trade initiatives that relieve outdoor businesses of disproportionately high import taxes; support businesses that manufacture their products domestically; support policies that promote sustainable products and supply chains
- Climate: Acknowledge the threat of climate change to our public lands and waters and to the outdoor recreation economy; support policies that seek to mitigate the effects of global warming
While our focus remains on how well each candidate’s priorities matches those of the outdoor industry, we encourage you to do your own research into these races, reading all aspects of a candidate’s policy platform on their website to better inform your vote.
We’ve selected 19 Races to Watch, which not only affect local constituents but could also impact federal and state outdoor recreation policies. We’ve highlighted nine official OIA Endorsements for the candidates we feel will make a difference in how policy related to the outdoor recreation economy is shaped on the local and national levels.
President Donald Trump
This is one of the most consequential elections in years. President Trump shrank national monuments, withdrew the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement and rolled back regulatory measures aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. He placed punitive tariffs on outdoor products sourced from China and withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. However, in support of our industry, he signed the Great American Outdoors Act into law and negotiated the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.
Former Vice President Joe Biden’s plan for rural America cites the outdoors as a reason to invest in rural communities for economic recovery. His campaign recognizes climate change and how its impacts to our health and communities are completely connected to our economy. The campaign calls for a 100 percent clean energy economy and net-zero emissions by 2050; infrastructure investment to ensure climate resilience; and work to protect vulnerable urban and rural communities from the impacts of industrial pollution on air, land and water. On trade, Biden will emphasize domestic manufacturing while still pursuing a more multilateral approach with our trading partners, in contrast to Trump’s “America First” agenda. While Biden was a part of the Obama administration that negotiated TPP, he stated during this year’s primaries that he would re-negotiate the agreement as part of an effort with TPP nations to address issues with China.
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Over the last two election cycles, more than $5 billion in funding for conservation and recreation efforts at the state and local levels has been approved by voters. Here’s a snapshot of some of the measures that will be on the 2020 ballot.
Denver Sales Tax for Climate
Voters in Denver will consider a measure to increase the sales tax by 0.25 percent to mitigate impacts of climate change. The measure could generate as much as $36 million a year, with funding allocated to multi-modal transportation initiatives, incentivizing renewable energy use and retrofitting buildings to emit fewer greenhouse gasses.
Colorado River District Mill Levy
Voters in a 15-county region of Colorado (Grand, Summit, Eagle, Pitkin, Garfield, Routt, Moffat, Rio Blanco, Mesa, Delta, Ouray and Gunnison counties and parts of Montrose, Saguache and Hinsdale counties) that form the Colorado River District will be asked to raise the property taxes at a rate of $1.90 per year per assessed $100,000 of residential value (median = $7.03) to support work related to the following:
- Protecting sustainable drinking water supplies for Western Slope communities
- Protecting fish, wildlife and recreation by maintaining river levels
- Fighting to keep water on the Western Slope
- Protecting adequate water supplies for Western Slope farmers and ranchers
If passed, the measure would generate $4.2 million dedicated to projects in the Colorado River District that focus on productive agriculture; infrastructure; watershed health; and water quality, conservation and efficiency.
Michigan Use of State and Local Parks Funds Amendment
A measure on the ballot in Michigan proposes changes to how the state’s park-related funds can be allocated. The Natural Resources Trust Fund (NRTF), which receives revenue from mineral, oil and gas fees, is currently capped at $500 million and does not allow more than 25 percent of each year’s funding to be spent on local parks.
A yes vote on the amendment will require 25 percent of each year’s NRTF funding to be spent on local parks.
Additionally, revenue from extractive fees above the NRTF cap is allocated to the State Parks Endowment Fund, which currently has about $300 million. The amendment proposes removing the $500 million cap for the NRTF only when the State Parks Endowment Fund reaches $800 million.
Portland (Oregon) 5-Year Mill Levy
Voters in Portland, Oregon, will see a measure on their November ballots to place a 5-year mill levy of $0.80 per $1000 of assessed value to fund the city’s park system. If passed, the measure would generate an estimated $48 million per year and cost the average household $11 per month.