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ACA succeeds in changing transportation law for camps.

After almost two years of proactive advocacy, the Board of Directors of the American Camp Association (ACA) is pleased to announce that on December 18, 2015, Congress signed into law a change to the commercial interstate transportation regulations impacting camps. Previously, in some states, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) was enforcing commercial interstate carrier regulations on camp programs as if they were commercial transportation companies such as Greyhound or Trailways. The new law provides camps an exemption from United States Code, Title 49, Interstate Transportation. Specifically, regarding Section [section] 13506, "exempting the transportation of passengers by nine-15 passenger motor vehicles operated by youth or family camps that provide recreational or educational activities" from certain commercial regulations. For more details, visit: ACAcamps.org/news-publications/news/new-law-exempts-camps-certain-commercial-transportation-regulations.

The ACA Board of Directors took a proactive approach to gaining this exemption when an FMCSA division administrator informed camp operators in Maine that if they utilized nine to 15-passenger vans for transporting passengers across state lines (or to pick up out-of-state passengers at the airport) then they were considered "for-hire transporters" and must comply with certain Commercial Motor Vehicle regulations. These regulations are not safety regulations. ACA did not, and will not, advocate against safety regulations.

ACA partnered with Maine Summer Camps and the American Camp Association, New England to achieve this exemption. To determine nationwide impact, ACA investigated whether this was an isolated issue found only in the state of Maine. Other than one situation in New Hampshire, federal officials in other states ACA polled said the regulations were not applicable to camps. However, upon discussions with FMCSA's Washington, DC, headquarters, they backed the division official in Maine and implied that the regulation would soon be enforced across the country. The impact on camps across the country would have been significant and would have placed camps in the vulnerable position of having to comply with for-hire interstate commerce regulations that are not only unnecessary and burdensome, but could have impacted the safety of children. Just one example is that the regulations require the posting of all routes and a time schedule, and to accept any member of the public as a paying passenger.

The Board of Directors directed public policy staff to focus on this issue and also hired expert help in Washington, DC, to support the efforts. Ice Miller Strategies was chosen to assist as they had significant experience in federal transportation issues. Senator Susan Collins of Maine, along with staff on the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations Committee were instrumental in advancing ACA's issue. Senator Collins provided her leadership to include the exemption for camps in the THUD Appropriations bill. ACA mobilized members and camps, and all along the process, camps in Maine and across the nation took an active role in advocating for the change in this federal law.

Many people made this legislative exemption for camps possible. ACA would like to thank the following individuals for their exceptional assistance and leadership:

* Senator Susan Collins, Maine

* Clayton Heil, Esq., and Thomas Lynch, Esq., Ice Miller Strategies

* Heideh Shahmoradi, clerk, Senate THUD Appropriations; and Rajat Mathur, professional staff, Senate THUD Appropriations

* Jack Erler, Esq., Curtis Thaxter, Attorneys at Law

* Ronald Hall, Maine Summer Camps

* Steve Sudduth, president, and Bette Bussel, executive director, ACA, New England
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Publication:Camping Magazine
Geographic Code:1U1ME
Date:Mar 1, 2016
Words:548
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