The Governmental and Legislative Affairs Committee includes FMCA members Frank Brodersen, who resides in Virginia but not long ago lived in Oregon; Paul DuBois, a New York resident who is the first vice president of the Northeast Area Association; and Vicky Ferrari, an attorney who lives in Virginia, near Washington, D.C.
I’m the committee chairman, currently residing in North Fort Myers, Florida. FMCA president Connie Pool serves as an ex officio member of the committee. FMCA executive director Don Eversmann is a non-voting consultant and adviser to the committee. Other staff members who frequently work with and help the committee include Beverly Spurgeon, director of member services; Margaret Keen, member services secretary; and Todd Moning, FMCA.com web editor.
In an effort to be of ongoing service to the membership, the committee maintains a presence on FMCA’s Web site and publishes news about laws and other issues affecting motorhome ownership, and also prepares a column for Family Motor Coaching magazine on a regular basis. In addition, the committee has prepared and distributes a number of pamphlets, manuals, and CDs/DVDs containing useful information on specific subjects, such as parking rights or governmental regulations concerning motorhomes listed on a state-by-state basis. FMCA’s Parking Rights Manual & Guide was first published nearly 25 years ago; it’s currently being revised again to update it with current laws and to make it more user-friendly. We plan on concluding this revision by May 2009.
Since the committee serves members from the United States and Canada, we have developed a corps of volunteers who live throughout the region and help us on an as-needed basis. These folks may be asked for local information not readily available to us, or be asked to deliver letters and sign in as our proxies at public hearings, or to be a contact person for information in a problem area. Nearly 100 member volunteers work with us, and this has been a very successful operation to date.
A number of cases are open right now as far as parking rights are concerned. Some are nearly five years old, whereas others are relatively new. We also have several cases open where we are attempting to gain favorable state legislation, which, if successful, will facilitate FMCA in scheduling international conventions. We also are trying to encourage Congress to reconstruct the national right-to-vote law so that people who live full-time in their RVs have a right to vote, and ease the process of getting them registered.
Perhaps the most important item on our current work agenda is the attempt to gain a uniform, consistent model RV lemon law that works in the United States and Canada. Those who purchase a new motorhome that has defects often are denied the use of it over long periods of time. They may look to the selling dealer for relief, to no avail, and then to the manufacturer and, if no relief is readily evident, to their home state or provincial officials in charge of consumer affairs. In many instances there is no controlling statute to assist them, or if there is, the process of using the law is laborious and costly. We found that many units of government bypassed the dealers as to responsibility and laid the blame on the manufacturer. In some cases, the manufacturer argued that the component manufacturer was at fault and replacement parts next to non-existent, resulting in their needing to be remanufactured, causing further delays. Manufacturers often are sued in superior courts and excessive judgments awarded. Therefore they, as a body, as well as FMCA, whose members are the ultimate consumers, concluded that a uniform lemon law is needed.
It would be difficult to enact such a law alone, and it seemed FMCA needed to find a partner with more political clout, so FMCA joined the International Association of Lemon Law Administrators (IALLA) as an associate member. IALLA members are the people who actually administer the lemon laws in their respective venues.
When FMCA joined IALLA, its members were being asked to consider a particular state’s lemon law, which seemed to provide more protection for the manufacturer than the consumer. FMCA adopted a position paper describing what we believed to be desirable in a model lemon law and presented it to an IALLA subcommittee this past June. Our paper was largely adopted by the subcommittee, and we were hoping the matter would be discussed at the IALLA conference in September 2008. If the model lemon law advances further, IALLA members will present it to their specific units of government. We will let you know the outcome via the magazine and FMCA.com. FMCA members may be asked to write to their individual state senators or representatives to help get this enacted into law.
Other topics still on the table for the Governmental and Legislative Affairs Committee include the RV Friendly program and our attempt to influence Congress to curtail excessive fuel costs, as well as other topics not quite as important.
If you want to keep up with laws we are following, as well as those we’re trying to change, make, or influence, look for the “Legislative Updates” columns, published regularly in Family Motor Coaching magazine and online at FMCA.com.