Legislative Update - October 2019

As the membership is well aware, one of the unique abilities we have as a professional organization is possibility of affecting change and the removal of barriers to commerce. We proved that ability several years ago when we spearheaded the legislation in Tallahassee to put in place the $18,000 tax cap on yacht sales transactions. Consequently, over a dozen states have followed Florida’s lead and passed similar job creating legislative changes in their states.

The next issue we identified was what we have come to call “Deferred Importation” and most of you are aware that we have had support from Congressional leaders from the beginning of our efforts dating back to the 114th Congress. We have two bills currently before the 116th Congress, one sponsored by Rep. Lois Frankel (D-Fl 21st District) and another sponsored by Rep. Brian Mast (R-Fl 18th District) to address the inability to offer foreign flag vessels to U.S. residents while in U.S. waters. The biggest difficulty with a bill of this type is that it is not impactful enough to stand on its own for presentation to the floor and be voted upon. These types of efforts need to find a “vehicle” that would be complimentary to its stated goal. As yet, in the divisive environment that ended the Obama administration and the tumultuous beginnings to the Trump administration, we have not identified a bill that would withstand the scrubbing of legislation like ours.

As yacht brokers, we don’t take NO for an answer so we look for a solution to accomplish our goals. Earlier this year I found a “request for information” issued by the Trump administration to identify barriers to commerce in the marine industry. We answered this RFI by presenting a beautifully worded response prepared by Jennifer Diaz of Diaz Trade Law in Miami. The Office of Management and Budget asked Staley and I to come to Washington and as a result of our meeting there, we were asked to propose the language to be included in the bill put before the President for signature. Again Jennifer Diaz rose to the challenge and we submitted language for inclusion in the bill.

As we await a response from OMB, we are also pursuing another tact. The International Trade Commission offers up to the Congress every two years something called the Miscellaneous Tariff’s Bill or MTB. We are awaiting the opening of a window for submissions and will again propose the language that provides relief for foreign flag vessels and allows us to offer them for sale or charter to U.S. residents while in U.S. waters.

This is just one of the ways your association is working to support your efforts to prosper. We’ll keep you informed of our progress.