By Max Durbin, F76454
National Vice President, International Area; Chairman, Governmental and Legislative Affairs Committee
FMCA’s Governmental and Legislative Affairs Committee (formerly known as the Legislative Advisory Committee) was created years ago to help fellow FMCA members who were experiencing problems with laws governing parking their motor coaches on their property, as well as other issues. Because of certain federal laws, as well as our own bylaws, FMCA tries to make changes on a legislative level with the help of volunteers, not paid lobbyists. These volunteers come from the ranks of our membership.
Several years ago members of the committee asked fellow FMCA members for volunteer help on a case-by-case basis, because the number of reported incidents had become overwhelming. It was gratifying, to say the least, to see the immediate reaction from our members to this request. We soon had a sizable force of volunteers, and within time, some training was provided and several short training brochures or manuals were distributed. The early version of the “Legislative Handbook” was rewritten and now is published as the “Parking Rights Manual.” It provides information about dealing with local government entities on issues related to motorhome parking. The booklet also offers insights into working with condominium or community associations that have affected our members’ motorhome parking. From time to time, FMCA members contact us with their offers to help with parking problems, and no offer is refused.
Parking issues are not the only difficulties our members face. Some of the other issues FMCA members are confronted with involve motorhome length, weight, and width; drivers licenses; taxes; tolls; crossing international borders; towing vehicles; use of certain highways or roads; hosting RV shows in certain areas; prohibition of overnight parking on certain business parking lots; and so forth. The list seems to be getting larger.
The committee has, because of members’ needs, branched out to work with state or provincial entities, or, when necessary, their legislative branches. We are working as best as we can within our own confines. We have little money and can’t hire lobbyists; therefore, we must rely on volunteer help.
Almost two years ago in one of these columns, I asked for volunteers to assist us at the state or provincial level. I didn’t describe the duties very eloquently and, as a result, didn’t get any volunteers. That doesn’t mean we don’t have some people helping “” we do. We have FMCA volunteers in Alberta, Canada, and in the states of Arizona, California, Montana, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Washington. This is just a tip of the iceberg, but at least it’s a start. However, if FMCA really wants to be effective, we need more members to help us out.
Following is our “job description” for the task.
FMCA jobs available
The Governmental and Legislative Affairs Committee seeks the assistance of FMCA members who live in or near state or provincial capitals and who are willing to assist FMCA within that state or province as coordinator of FMCA-sanctioned activities.
As FMCA’s state or provincial coordinator, you perform under the general supervision of the chairman of the Governmental and Legislative Affairs Committee. You may be required to deliver letters to a variety of government bureaus, departments, or officials, or appear at public hearings before governmental committees, reading into the record FMCA’s position on the topic of the hearing. You may be required to assist FMCA in identifying other agencies or organizations that have similar interests as those of FMCA and may join with us in the enterprise. You may be required to communicate with FMCA members, outside agency officials, and elected government officials regarding FMCA’s position on an issue.
You must be a member of Family Motor Coach Association and willing to donate time to assist fellow FMCA members. No particular education or training is necessary, and no certificates or licenses are needed. You will not be acting as a registered lobbyist. If official correspondence is required, it will be supplied by FMCA’s committee or staff.
The chairman of the Governmental and Legislative Affairs Committee must authorize in advance any efforts to be made where funds will be expended for reimbursement. FMCA does not expect volunteers in this capacity to spend their own money supporting these efforts.
How much work is necessary?
What are the chances you will be asked to actually undertake an activity for FMCA? Well, the volunteer in Alberta, Canada, has yet to be asked to represent us, but he is ready and willing. Our volunteer in Montana helped to stop a bill that would have prevented the parking of occupied units overnight anywhere but in a licensed campground. The volunteer in Washington helped us stop several bills that, if enacted, would have put a heavy tax burden on owners of motorhomes there. Our volunteer in Oregon is seeking to gain acceptance of the “RV Friendly” logo on signs along the highway, so motorhomers know that certain facilities can accommodate their vehicles. We also have been lobbying state legislatures (such as Oklahoma) to change motor vehicle dealer franchise laws so that FMCA can host a convention in the state. Many states have franchise laws that are not conducive to hosting a convention.
As the population of North America increases and more people buy motorhomes, the problems we will have with government restrictions are bound to increase. Therefore, we need to follow the Boy Scout motto: Be prepared.
Won’t you help by volunteering now? Contact me at (800) 544-7062, ext. 600, or [email protected]; or Margaret Keen at the FMCA national office, (800) 543-3622, ext. 319, or e-mail [email protected] If you would like to help, send us your name, and we will provide you the necessary material we have and get you into the loop. You may never be needed, but if you are, both you and many fellow FMCA members will be glad you volunteered.