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America Outdoors E-News

December 17, 2007

 
Contents:
Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2007 Proposes to Re-establish Authority for Taxes on Goods and Services on Navigable Waterways for Outfitters Bill to Repeal Agencies Fee Authority Introduced in Senate
Extension on Forest Service Permitting Policy Directive Expected to Be Announced on Friday Tennessee Outfitters Fight Seizure of Property in Dispute with County over Tax on Rafting
Coast Guard Reauthorization Bill Proposes to
Re-establish Authority for Sales Taxes on Goods and Services on Navigable Waterways for Outfitters
 

The Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2007, H.R.2830 , currently under consideration by the House of Representatives, re-establishes the authority for state and local governments to levy sales taxes on goods and services delivered on navigable waterways (except for those vessels involved in foreign commerce, such as cruise ships). The bill, sponsored by Representative Oberstar (D-MN), has been marked up in the House Judiciary Committee and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure

Even if your members of Congress are not on one of the committees cited in this alert, write them as soon as possible.

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce is likely to consider the bill sometime in early 2008. So, writing now is extremely important. Committee members are listed below.

House Committee on Energy & Commerce
Committee Members

  Henry A. Waxman, CA
Edward J. Markey, MA
Rick Boucher, VA

Edolphus Towns, NY
Frank Pallone, Jr., NJ
Bart Gordon, TN
Bobby L. Rush, IL
Anna G. Eshoo, CA
Bart Stupak, MI
Eliot L. Engel, NY
Albert R. Wynn, MD
Gene Green, TX
Diana DeGette, CO, Vice Chair
Lois Capps, CA
Mike Doyle, PA
Jane Harman, CA
Tom Allen, ME
Jan Schakowsky, IL
Hilda L. Solis, CA
Charles A. Gonzalez, TX
Jay Inslee, WA
Tammy Baldwin, WI
Mike Ross, AR
Darlene Hooley, OR
Anthony D. Weiner, NY Jim Matheson, UT
G. K. Butterfield, NC
Charlie Melancon, LA
John Barrow, GA
Baron P. Hill, IN
Joe Barton, TX, Ranking Member
Ralph M. Hall, TX
Vacancy**
Fred Upton, MI
Cliff Stearns, FL
Nathan Deal, GA
Ed Whitfield, KY
Barbara Cubin, WY
John Shimkus, IL
Heather Wilson, NM
John Shadegg, AZ
Charles W. "Chip" Pickering, MS
Vito Fossella, NY
Steve Buyer, IN
George Radanovich, CA
Joseph R. Pitts, PA
Mary Bono, CA
Greg Walden, OR
Lee Terry, NE
Mike Ferguson, NJ
Mike Rogers, MI
Sue Myrick, NC
John Sullivan, OK
Tim Murphy, PA
Michael C. Burgess, TX
Marsha Blackburn, TN*
   
  In the Senate, the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation has jurisdiction over the Coast Guard Authorization bill. AO members in Maine, Alaska, Oregon, West Virginia and Arizona have key Senators on the list.

Key Senators on that Committee are Chairman Senator Daniel Inoyue (D-HI), Ranking Republican Ted Stevens (R-AK), Chair of the Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard Maria Cantwell (D-WA), and Ranking GOP member on the Subcommittee Olympia Snowe (R-ME).

The following is the complete full committee membership: Senators Inoyue, John Rockefeller (D-WV), John Kerry (D-MA), Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Mark Pryor (D-AR), Thomas Carper (D-DE), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ted Stevens (R-AK), John McCain (R-AZ), Trent Lott (R-MS), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Gordon Smith (R_OR) John Ensign (R-NV), John Sununu (R-NH), Jim DeMint (R-SC), David Vitter (R-LA) and John Thune (R-SD).

Members should contact and write their Senators and Representative requesting that the following language be eliminated from the Coast Guard Reauthorization bill.

SEC. 302. GOODS AND SERVICES.
Section 4(b) of the Act of July 5, 1884, commonly known as the Rivers and Harbors Appropriation Act of 1884 (33 U.S.C. 5(b)), is amended-

(1) by striking `or' at the end of paragraph (2)I;
(2) by striking the period at the end of paragraph
(3) and inserting `; or'; and (3) by adding at the end the following: `
(4) sales taxes on goods and services provided to or by vessels or watercraft (other than vessels or watercraft primarily engaged in foreign commerce).'.

See the following letter, which you should immediately fax to members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. Copy the letter from the browser into a word processing program. Do not mail the letter. Fax it to ensure its arrival. Call the AO office for fax numbers 800-524-4814.

For letters to the House of Representatives

The Honorable
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

For letters to the Senate
The Honorable
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Representative (name of your Representative) or Senator:
I am writing to ask you to support deletion of Section 302 Goods and Services from the Coast Guard Authorization Act when this bill is considered. This section of the bill overturns provisions of the Rivers and Harbors Appropriate Act of 1884 that prevented vessels operating on navigable waters from being taxed by every local and state government through which they transit. It is equally disturbing that the bill exempts vessels involved in foreign commerce (cruise ships) from the tax, while allowing additional taxes on many small fishing operations and outfitters and guides. These small businesses often already pay fees to state licensing authorities and federal land managing agencies. Those fees are for state licenses and for other fees authorized under the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act of 2004 and other authorities.

Seasonal businesses simply cannot withstand the onslaught of fees, higher fuel costs and health care costs descending on their operations. Please stand up for small business and remove Section 302 from the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2007.

Thank you for your earnest consideration.

Sincerely,

__________________________

America Outdoors wrote a letter before mark-up in the other committees opposing the language. However, the provision has the support of local governments and will require strong action by AO members to prevent its passage. The Senate has not considered the bill, as yet. Even though the bill is out of two House Committees, writing key Congressman on those committees along with Senators is still important, since the bill will come back to the House for consideration of any changes after passage by the Senate.

A convenient site to find members of Congress by zip code. http://www.congress.org/congressorg/directory/congdir.tt
These sites are a source for listings of Representatives and Senators by state. Representatives: http://www.house.gov/house/MemberWWW_by_State.shtml Senators: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm
Click through to the members of Congress websites and find their Washington DC office fax numbers.

   
Bill to Repeal Agencies' Fee
Authority Introduced in Senate
 

Senator Crapo and Senator Baucus have introduced legislation H.R. 2438 to repeal most of the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act of 2004. The 2004 bill established a ten-year authority for fees on federal lands and established new authority for the fees under which outfitter and guides are permitted. Those fees are now returned to the Forest Service, BLM, and the Park Service. Some provisions of the 2004 Act remain in effect.

The bill's future is uncertain since the objection of one Senator can effectively kill the bill unless there are 60 votes to override a potential filibuster.

   
Comment Period on Forest Service Permitting Policy Extended to February 19th
  On Friday December 14, the Forest Service published an extension of the comment period on the Proposed Directives for Forest Service Outfitting and Guiding Special Use Permits and Insurance Requirements for Forest Service Special Use Permits. Comments now must be submitted by February 19, 2008. America Outdoors has taken comments from a number of members and will soon issue proposed comments to guide members' comments. Many outfitters will want to get groups with whom they work, especially children and non profit organizations, to comment in support of the services they provide.

One AO member familiar with the policy observed: All of our California rivers (Lower Klamath, Salmon, Scott, Smith) are under a Forest Service permit. However, except for the Klamath, they are so remote and so snow-dependent that no outfitter comes even close to reaching a peak day in any given year. (Conversely, there are very few institutions seeking temporary use permits for the same reasons.) A forced formula would make us all lose user days every review period. Meanwhile, the economy of the area is dependent on tourism now that mining, logging, and fishing are gone. This could actually over time kill the last legitimate source of revenue Far North California has going for it. This is truly an area where allowing the Forest Supervisor discretion is a must.
   
Tennessee Outfitters Fight Seizure of Property in Dispute with County over Tax on Rafting
  Ocoee River outfitters used the provisions of the Rivers and Harbors Act and Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002 to escape 10% amusement taxes on raft trips on the Ocoee River. After winning in the first round in county court, Polk County appealed and the county judge ruled that the customer paid the tax, not the outfitter, therefore $2 million in back taxes were due. Polk County demanded payment with interest or the outfitters' property would be seized. The outfitters have filed a motion seeking an injunction against the seizures, pending outcome of an appeal.
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America Outdoors Staff

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E-mail address

     
David L. Brown Executive Director dbrown@americaoutdoors.org
Robin Brown Communications Director robin@americaoutdoors.org
Chrystal Graham Office Manager office@americaoutdoors.org
Office Phone   865-558-3595
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