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July 18, 2007

America Outdoors E-News

 
Alert on New Visa MasterCard Processing Requirements You Must Comply by August 1st California Supreme Court Invalidates Waivers for Gross Negligence
Energy and Conservation Tax Incentives Available for Small Businesses AO to Push for Funding for Trail Clearing Efforts
QuickBooks Announces a Training Service for Bookkeepers Agenda for AO's Marketing and Management Conference Posted
Alert on New Visa MasterCard Processing Requirements You Must Comply by August 1st
  In May 2007, AAMS began sending letters to their entire Level 4 merchant portfolio, including AO members, to notify them of the PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) mandate. AAMS is required by the Card Associations to implement a PCI plan for all Level 4 merchants prior to July 31, 2007. Level 4 merchants comprise the bulk of merchant accounts and are the most vulnerable to data compromise. More compromises have occurred with Level 4 merchants than Level 1, 2, and 3 combined. For more information, visit www.pcisecuritystandards.org.

To assist their customers, AAMS enlisted the services of SecurityMetrics. They are an approved PCI scan vendor and security assessor. For merchants with websites or internet connections, they can perform the required quarterly scans, provide technical support, and assist with the self-assessment questionnaire. For merchants using a dial terminal and no pc applications, only the self-assessment questionnaire is required. SecurityMetrics can provided a scaled down, 15 question version to these customers. SecurityMetrics offers these services to AAMS for a discount. SecurityMetrics can be reached online at www.securitymetrics.com or toll free at 1-800-557-4797.

All Visa and MasterCard acquirers will have to comply with the PCI DSS mandate or face penalties. We are hearing reports that other acquirers are not requesting compliance, but they will be required to. The fees and fines are in the thousands of dollars and could easily put a merchant out of business. AAMS has taken a proactive approach to protect the security and reputation of our name and that of our customers.
California Supreme Court Invalidates
Waivers for Gross Negligence
  According to a report from the Los Angeles Times, the California Supreme Court has invalidated liability waivers of claims for gross negligence often used by recreational businesses and organizations. The death of minor in a swimming pool at a camp run for developmentally disabled children led to a lawsuit against the City of Santa Barbara, which ran the camp. A child with a history of seizures whose mother insisted that she be allowed in the pool drowned during the city's camp. The parents "authorized her to swim and to dive and opted not to require her to wear a flotation device," according to one of Justices who agreed with the ruling but dissented from the majority legal opinion. A college student camp counselor assigned to watch the girl had her attention diverted briefly during which time the child disappeared and drowned. The child had experienced a seizure about an hour before the drowning but was allowed back in the pool.

The California Supreme Court did not conclude that gross negligence was involved but that the plaintiffs could not be barred from suing for gross negligence. Lower courts had made similar rulings. The waiver may have protected the camp from ordinary negligence but not from gross negligence. The lower court said the plaintiffs presented enough evidence that a jury could possibly find evidence of gross negligence. The city had tried to have the case dismissed on the grounds that the mother had signed the waiver and wanted her the child involved in swimming activities.

The Supreme Court assigned law clerks to determine if a ruling outlawing waivers for negligence would diminish recreation opportunities and their findings claimed that not to be the case. But advocates for the use of waivers cited several activities that had been abolished due to the expense of defending against insurance claims and also cited the rising cost of liability insurance as a factor barring many activities. Plaintiffs often sue for gross negligence and can even misrepresent the facts of the case in their complaint even when no negligence led to the injury. Still, most states do not recognize waivers for claims of gross negligence. Vermont has even outlawed waivers for injuries related to recreational skiing.
   
Energy and Conservation Tax Incentives Available for Small Businesses
  Need a source for ways you can save money on your investment in energy efficient vehicles, buildings and alternative energy production? Here are a couple of websites that provide you with the lowdown on tax credits for appliances, solar panels, vehicles, and buildings. Go to http://www.energytaxincentives.org/business/

The Department of Energy also maintains a site with the latest information on environmental friendly and efficient construction and products. http://www.eere.energy.gov/

Building a new lodge or looking for ways to reduce your power consumption to save money? The wide-ranging Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006 extends the production tax credit through 2008 for electricity produced from wind power, geothermal power, biomass, landfill gas, small irrigation power, and trash combustion facilities. It provides a similar one-year tax credit extension for new properties that produce geothermal power or make use of solar energy; for homeowners that purchase solar water heating, solar photovoltaic, or fuel cell systems; for businesses that purchase fiber-optic lighting systems, solar energy systems, or fuel cell power plants; for new energy efficient homes; and for energy efficiency improvements to commercial buildings.
   
AO to Push for Funding for Trail Clearing Efforts
  Many outfitters find themselves spending hours and hours opening up public trails in national forests, especially in areas where fires and blow downs have left trails impassable with deadfall. Some Forest Service trail crews are doing remarkable work. One outfitter in the Bridger Teton has been very impressed with the crew's efforts in his area. However, because fires have ravaged such a large area and recurrent storms can leave hundreds of dead trees across a trail after one winter, the Forest Service trail crews are often understaffed or arrive too late to get trails cleared before the start of the season. One Montana outfitter recently spent 140 hours clearing a trail in the Scapegoat Wilderness.

AO will be meeting with the Forest Service and Congress later this month in an effort to address this issue. We are seeking changes in appropriations legislation to improve the funding for trail clearing or to provide the Forest Service with the authority to provide credits against special use fees subject to agency approval for significant trail clearing projects supported or performed by outfitters for publicly used trails. Currently, the Forest Service doesn't have the legal authority to provide those credits to outfitters for trail clearing. But they don't have the capacity to clear all the trails either. Congress could also allocate funds specifically to deal with blow downs that result from fires. Although the agency gets Burned Area Rehabilitation funds they only are available immediately after a fire and cannot be used in future years when many of the blow downs occur.
 
QuickBooks Announces a Training Service for Bookkeepers
  QuickBooks is introducing a pilot program to help new customers get set-up & trained on QuickBooks, quickly, accurately and according to their business needs. The program provides all of the following and more:
  • Consultation - Consultative interview by a QuickBooks Professional to understand their business needs
  • Recommendation - on which QuickBooks software is right for their business if they haven't already purchased the software.
  • Installation and Set-up - Including set-up of Chart of Accounts, opening balances and customer preferences
  • Training - Clients are instructed how to use the QuickBooks software to perform basic tasks and how to track financial information for their company. After purchasing the QuickBooks SureStart Package, a QuickBooks Professional will contact them within 3 days to setup an initial consultation.
  • Support - The program provides consultation for 5 business days past set-up period
America Outdoors is a QuickBooks affiliate. You can purchase QuickBooks products at discounts of up to 20% through the AO website. Go to item 8 on the member benefits list at Member Benefits.
   
Agenda for AO's 2007 Marketing
and Management Conference Posted
  Reno, Nevada is the location for AO's 2007 Marketing and Management Conference, December 5-7. The host hotel and seminar venue is the Silver Legacy Resort. Call 800-687-7733 or 775-329-4777; for reservations use the code America.

Check out the 2007 Agenda on the AO website. The online registration form will be available later this month.


Make plans now to be with us in Reno for Confluence 2007.
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America Outdoors® Inc., PO Box 10847, Knoxville, TN, 37939

America Outdoors Staff Title E-mail address
David L. Brown Executive Director dbrown@americaoutdoors.org
Robin Brown Communications Director robin@americaoutdoors.org
Office Phone 865-558-3595
Office Fax 865-558-3598

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