WASHINGTON, D.C. – RV industry executives who met with members of Congress last week for Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill as part of the RV Industry Association’s Committee Week are calling the event a success, saying lawmakers were receptive to their concerns.
According to RVIA, 120 Committee Week attendees met with more than 170 members of Congress or their staffs, marking a 30 percent increase from 2017 and representing the largest event to date.
Specific concerns that RVIA asked attendees to share with members of Congress include the negative impact steel and aluminum tariffs are having on manufacturers and suppliers; the need for revisions to the tax bill Congress passed late year, which inadvertently removed travel trailers from the definition of “motor vehicle” for the purposes of floorplan financing interest deductibility; and the need for campgrounds on federal lands to be modernized and expanded to accommodate the growing number of RVers and campers.
Attendees also asked members of Congress to join the RV Caucus, which advocates for the industry on Capitol Hill.
“I thought the Advocacy Day was successful,” said Bill Rogers, vice president and general manager of NTP-STAG. “I visited with eight congressional offices where I was able to convey the industry voice on the subjects of tariffs, national park improvement legislation, the need for a correction to the recent tax law to address an oversight regarding dealer financing and to solicit more support and participation for the RV Caucuses in the House and Senate.
“I appreciated the opportunity to do this and the significant support from the RV Industry Association,” he added. “I felt like the effort was effective and our concerns resonated with our representatives in Congress.”
Dick Grymonprez, director of park model sales for Athens Park Model RVs, echoed Rogers’ assessment of how RVIA members were received by members of Congress.
“I had eight meetings and they all went really well,” he said. “I felt we were well-prepared and that our message was heard. They certainly understood our concerns – especially about the tariffs when we explained just how much aluminum and steel are used in a typical RV and how much the price is going to go up over the next few months. They all said they would do what they could to help.”
Dave Schutz, senior VP of RV OEM sales for Dometic, called Advocacy Day “the best so far and the event continues to improve.” While none of the members of Congress that his group met with made any specific promises related to RVIA’s legislative agenda, Schutz said, “They listened and understood our ‘asks’ clearly.”
RVDA President Phil Ingrassia said he and other attendees made it a point to again ask lawmakers to fix the portion of the 2017 tax bill relating to travel trailer floorplan interest deduction, which impacts dealers with $25 million or more in annual sales.
“There are several Congressional reps that are working on the travel trailer interest deduction, most notably Rep. Jackie Walorski … and Rep. Tom Emmer (of Minnesota). We have met several times, including last week during Advocacy Day, about this issue,” he said.
Susan Carpenter, director of business development for CPG Brands, said she was particularly pleased to be able to speak with members of Congress themselves rather than staffers charged with reporting back to those lawmakers.
“Our group from Indiana had meetings with our members of Congress themselves. This doesn’t always happen and it’s always interesting to see and hear how they respond to what we have to say,” she said. Carpenter said two members of Congress immediately understood what RVIA members “asks” were, while a third member needed to be brought up to speed, so they spent a bit of time educating him on the issues.
“No matter what you walk away with from your meeting, you should all be proud that you participated and made your voice heard. The RVIA staff is always working on these issues, but putting faces if those effected is important,” she said. “If more people took to the marching of Capitol Hill, I believe that Congress would have no choice then to listen.”