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April 2019

A Time for Reflection

By Ronnie Miles
Director of Advocacy
NGCOA

With the many changes taking place in Washington, D.C., it seems there is a “quiet before the storm.” This period has provided me an opportunity to reflect on my three years with NGCOA. Having spent over 30 years managing multiple business and community operations, including golf, for the U.S. Navy, I understand how state and federal regulations can impede the economic balance between service and profits. While there exists some unique differences between public and private enterprises, and taxing issues are unique to the private business sector, the majority of labor and environmental regulations can create equal challenges.

The commitment made three years ago by the NGCOA Board of Directors to invest in a full-time staff member to support the advocacy efforts of the organization reflected their understanding of the need to ensure golf course owners and operators voices are heard and their commitment to ensuring that ongoing engagement is part of the services to our members.

What I realized fairly early as director of this new initiative was that advocating for our members is not limited to Washington, D.C. The majority of public policy issues are focused more at the state and local level. Working with our members on these issues has allowed us to become more of a clearing house of best practices, and connecting members with solutions to their day to day challenges.

While some of our members are fortunate enough to have the time and staff necessary to stay on top of the issues facing the industry, the majority have little resources to dedicate to this time-consuming task. We recognize that many of the issues we report on may not impact all members today, but one thing we have learned in the world of politics, if one community or state has found a new way to create more tax income, others will soon follow. Owners and operators must engage early and educate their leaders on the impact a measure will have on their business and subsequently their community.

Currently we have a couple of important federal rules that will greatly impact our members. One is the proposed overtime rule being issued by the Department of Labor. We are hopeful the final rule will set minimum pay levels for exempt employees in the mid-$30,000 range. Some states have already taken steps and created their own pay levels for exempt employees.

Another federal policy that is out for comments is the new Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) Rule. As you know, the golf industry has been a leader in protecting our waterways by greatly reducing the harmful chemicals released into local streams and waterways. Unfortunately the battle of convincing Congress and the media of this fact is an ongoing effort.

This is one of the major messages the We Are Golf Coalition delivers to our leaders in Washington every year as part of our National Golf Day event. As a golf course owner we need your voice with us in Washington. If you have not been a part of this event in the past, I would encourage you to consider making this investment in your business.

Should you need NGCOA assistance with any advocacy issues, contact Ronnie Miles, rmiles@ngcoa.org.

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