As companies across the country and within the RV industry are attempting to navigate the uncertain times ahead, I wanted to brief you all on the great work being done by your association on your behalf.
The RV Industry Association’s government affairs team is in constant communications with Members of Congress to ensure the RV industry remains strong when we emerge from this serious health crisis and our members can rest assured that we’re representing the best interests of the RV industry in these meetings and discussions with federal and state policymakers. In addition to policymakers, we are working very closely with the RV Dealers Association, the National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (ARVC), and the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR) - our industry partners from across the RV industry as well as the wider outdoor recreation industry.
As you can imagine, things are happening at breakneck speed. Here’s what I can update you on regarding our efforts with the stimulus package and the nation’s emergency response.
INCLUSION OF RVs IN THE STIMULUS PACKAGE
Coronavirus aid is coming in stages and the RV Industry Association team is working to have the RV industry specifically included in stimulus packages. The first stage was an $8.3 billion package signed into law on March 6, 2020 focusing on fortifying health agencies to contain the outbreak. The second stage is the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, a $100 billion-dollar stimulus bill signed into law by President Trump last night. This package provides 14 paid sick days to workers, boosts unemployment insurance, makes coronavirus testing free, and increases food assistance during the crisis.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans are taking the lead on the third stage, a $1 trillion stimulus package. As negotiations on this package begin, the RV Industry Association’s federal affairs team is talking regularly with our contacts in the Senate and the Administration to provide input and suggestions regarding the inclusion of the RV industry in the proposed stimulus package.
This package will reportedly include checks from the government to all Americans meeting certain income requirements, to begin as soon as early April. The bill is also rumored to authorize the creation of a small business interruption loan program and appropriate $300 billion for the program. The U.S. government would provide a 100 percent guarantee on any qualifying small business interruption loan. This is for businesses with fewer than 500 employees and would be for 100 percent of six weeks of payroll, capped at $1,540 per week per employee.
Finally, before the current crisis, the RV Industry Association and ORR had been working closely with the House Small Business Committee on stimulating small businesses within the outdoor recreation and RV industries and to help campgrounds and dealerships in rural communities. This working relationship led the committee to reach out to ORR to request input on outdoor recreation needs and how the Small Business Administration can help in their stimulus package.
INCLUSION FLOOR PLAN FIX
The team is also actively working with our champions in the House and Senate to request that any stimulus bill includes the floor plan fix we have been advocating for since 2018. During this time of uncertainty, an easy fix like this would help save RV dealers money that they can use to mitigate any slowdowns or setbacks they experience due to coronavirus. Fixing this definition would provide this small certainty to nearly 400 dealer locations nationwide but is still an uphill battle in the partisan halls of Congress.
RVs FOR EMERGENCY RESPONSE
The government affairs team is currently engaging state officials, Congress, and the Vice President’s Coronavirus Taskforce to advocate for the use of RVs for emergency response purposes such as quarantine units, mobile staging units, mobile medical clinics, operating rooms, ICUs, bathroom trailers, laundry facilities, sleeping units, command centers, and more. RVs are uniquely able to meet these critical needs in an expedited timeframe. California has already announced their intention to purchase more than 1,300 travel trailers to use as quarantine units. The state team is working to advocate for similar uses for RVs in other states.
The team is also working with our RV Caucus Co-Chairs, Representative Jackie Walorksi (R-2-IN) and Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), our champions on Capitol Hill, and the Vice President’s Coronavirus Task Force, to advocate for RV manufacturers and dealers to be considered “essential businesses.” This will allow manufacturers and dealers to remain open and able to provide RVs for the emergency response uses listed above.
It is also critical to keep RV dealerships open and available to perform critical maintenance and repairs for consumers who are currently RVing and provide liquified petroleum gas refills for heat and refrigeration. Moreover, there are RV mobile medical clinics already on the road now that may need service.
Ensuring that RV businesses are able to remain open to assist in the crisis and serve customers in need is a priority for the Association.
KEEPING RV CAMPING SAFE & ACCESSIBLE
The government affairs team is working closely with ORR and federal, state and private campground partners to provide solutions and advocate for the need to keep campgrounds open and accessible to RVers as long as there’s no threat to the health and safety of visitors, employees, and vital resources. The team is also working with federal agencies to provide increased access to dispersed or boondocking campsites, where appropriate, to alleviate campground overcrowding at many of the popular national park locations and to help with social distancing.
The federal agencies and private campgrounds are also interested in helping to redirect camping demand from limited-capacity or closed parks to local private campgrounds, so RV families aren’t trapped without overnight accommodations.
As the uncertainty around the coronavirus pandemic evolves, the Association will continue to reevaluate how the RV industry can be helpful in providing safe, temporary accommodations while adhering to guidelines from health agencies.
Additionally, the team is exploring ways that the Administration can use its trade policy to reduce input costs and ensure that manufacturers are keeping more money in their pockets to continue their operations where possible, pay their staffs, and face any potential slowdowns due to the virus. Members of Congress are also floating suggestions for ways the administration can provide industry with relief on this front, though the President currently appears to favor more direct stimulus measures.
In addition to the work we’re doing with policymakers across the country, members can review the additional information and resources that we've collected to help guide your decisions as the situation evolves. As always, to stay up-to-date on the latest industry news, visit the RV Industry Association’s News & Insights Blog and please contact me if there is are any additional ways that we can continue to help you during the current situation.