By Max Durbin, F76454
National Vice President, International Area
Chairman, Legislative Advisory Committee
The Legislative Advisory Committee has accomplished a good deal over the past few years. For one, we now have a cadre of fellow member volunteers who stand ready, on an as-needed basis, to assist other FMCA members who may be experiencing parking rights problems. Then, too, we have obtained the services of other volunteer members who live in state capital cities and who stand ready to run errands for the committee at their statehouse when legislation of importance to FMCA is being considered. These volunteers are not asked to do the actual testimony at hearings, but only to sign FMCA in and deliver letters to legislative hearing secretaries. Finally, we have volunteers who are able to conduct research or delve into matters of importance to FMCA, such as a member who recently spent time determining the extent of certain states’ franchise laws. If no activity occurs in their area, these volunteers may not be needed for some time, but it is reassuring to know they are willing and able to help when called upon.
Since parking rights continues to be the most pressing need among FMCA members, the committee has devoted much of its meeting time to determining how best to serve members in this regard. Two major decisions were reached at our last meeting. First, it has been nearly five years since FMCA’s Legislative Handbook was last updated. Accordingly, with the approval of the Executive Committee, FMCA’s corporate attorney was asked to redo the manual, incorporating the latest case laws recorded throughout the United States. The decisions in these cases may have a bearing on any member who is having difficulty with local government or community associations regarding the parking of a motorhome on his or her residential lot. The attorney has been asked to complete this work in a timely fashion so that the Legislative Advisory Committee can put the finishing touches on it and distribute it at the meeting this spring.
The other major decision we made was to create an audiovisual program that will give FMCA members a hands-on approach to dealing with parking rights problems when they’re working with a local government or community association to fairly present reasons for wanting to park a unit on a residential lot. We envision that this program will contain graphs, charts, photos, and artists’ renderings, suitable for presentation to local government entities, real estate developers, or community or condo associations. We are of the opinion that a canned program, skillfully developed and reviewed by knowledgeable developers, experienced government officials, and corporate and municipal attorneys, will be of immeasurable assistance to members in need. Of course, we will do the utmost to provide the program in such a manner that any FMCA member will be able to use it without difficulty.
Obviously, this is a substantial undertaking. We realize that since we are volunteers ourselves, a limited number of hours per week can be devoted to the project. On top of that, we need to locate experts to provide their critique before the audiovisual program receives the final approval. All this takes time; therefore, the projected date for making this program available to the membership is mid-2004. Even that date is ambitious, but without it, the project may never be accomplished.
FMCA continues to receive requests for assistance with many other issues, mostly involving government. It seems that a person cannot operate an auto, truck, or motorhome for any length of time without violating some state or county law. Many of these rules are archaic or obsolete, but sometimes an eager police officer will issue a citation for a perceived infraction.
Recently, law-enforcement officers in one Canadian province reportedly were citing motorhome owners for towing vehicles without auxiliary brakes. After FMCA inquiries, the law was held in abeyance pending further review. In one state, an ambiguous law seemed to require an operator of a motorhome weighing more than 8,000 pounds to have a special class of license. A city police officer took it upon himself to cite a motorhome owner for this, but when we inquired about it, we learned the officer was in error, and the RVer was cleared.
These two cases illustrate how the Legislative Advisory Committee’s work has changed since its inception as a “parking rights advocate.”
In another example, an FMCA member who lives in Oregon saw an advertisement for a business while traveling along an Oregon interstate in his motorhome with a vehicle in tow. When he arrived at the business in question, he found that it had no provision for large vehicles. He mulled over the situation and thought that perhaps the state (which controls the advertising signs along the interstate highways) could place an emblem on the signs to indicate whether a business could accommodate larger vehicles, and thus could be considered “RV friendly.”
He mentioned his idea to fellow FMCA chapter members who, in turn, referred the matter to Jim Phillips, F158824, Northwest Area Vice President. Jim asked our committee to pursue the idea and, with the assistance of the member, Frank Brodersen, F289730, a pilot program to carry out his plan has been approved by the Oregon Tourist Information Council. Any business advertising on a state sign along the Oregon interstate system may display an “RV Friendly” icon if they so desire. A representation of what such an icon might look like accompanies this article.
Please remember that many volunteers assist the Legislative Advisory Committee. FMCA is a member organization, and it has considerate, caring, hardworking members who volunteer their time and expertise to make FMCA a great organization. If you feel that you might be able to contribute to the goals of the committee and are inclined to volunteer, contact the Membership Services Department, at the national office: (800) 543-3622 or [email protected].