WASHINGTON, D.C. — One of the RV industry’s most steadfast champions, Congressman Dennis A. Ross (FL-15), is retiring effective January 3, 2019. He has been a member of Congress since 2010 and is one of the founders of the influential RV Caucus. As the co-founder of the House RV Caucus, Congressman Ross has been an advocate of the industry for many years and is an avid RVer. In early 2018, Rep. Ross received the RV Industry Association’s National Legislative Award for his dedication to legislative matters pertaining to the RV Industry.
As a lifelong RVer, Rep. Ross’ deep understanding and passion for the RV industry has not gone unnoticed and the RV Industry will miss his support of numerous RV-related endeavors on Capitol Hill. He has championed the passage of the REC Act, co-sponsored the GSP technical fix legislation, delivered positive testimony during congressional hearings, advanced the RV Industry Association’s campground modernization and expansion initiative and much more.
Rep. Ross reflects on his involvement with the RV Caucus, the impact the RV industry has on our economy and advice for new Members of Congress coming in in this brief Q&A:
1. Why should other Members of Congress join the RV Caucus?
Rep. Ross: The RV industry provides over a quarter of a million jobs across the U.S., contributes $50 billion to our economy, and has allowed millions of families to take the comfort of their own homes on the road to experience the many wonders our diverse nation has to offer.
This caucus gives Members of Congress the opportunity to work together to further understand and promote a sector that has greatly contributed to the tourism industry and economy of the U.S.
No one loves the outdoors more than RV owners. We must ensure federal policies protect the outdoors and, at the same time, allow them to be enjoyed responsibly. This caucus provides a powerful, unified voice in Congress to advocate for such common-sense and bipartisan policies, and Members interested in being a part of that influential voice should sign up.
2. What inspired you to establish the RV Caucus?
Rep. Ross: This caucus was formed to celebrate the American people’s love for the outdoors and cross-country travel.
As a young boy, I traveled the country in the summers with my grandparents in their 1960 Airstream, which I now own and have worked hard to restore to its original beauty. Now as an adult, my wife, Cindy and I have taken our sons, Travis and Shane, on countless trips by motor home, stopping in each of the 48 continental states.
The fond memories I have from these experiences inspired me to ensure Members of Congress had a way to understand both the contributions of and issues impacting this American tradition, which I sincerely hope will be enjoyed for generations to come.
3. In your opinion, what is the biggest issue facing the RV industry and how can Congress help?
Rep. Ross: For the RV industry to continue to grow, RVers must have somewhere to go. Therefore, I think the biggest issue is the desperate need to modernize our national parks. RV-associated overnight stays within National Park Service (NPS) campgrounds have declined significantly from over 4.5 million overnights in the 1980s to only 2.5 million overnights in 2017.
We can help reverse this trend by addressing the NPS maintenance backlog and bringing in new resources to further encourage families to try RVing in our beautiful national parks. For instance, I believe one beneficial development would be to establish special partnerships, where experienced concessionaires could finance and upgrade campsites on federal lands, while balancing vital conservation needs and keeping the iconic NPS look and feel.
Overall, Congress must continue to work together with the Secretary of the Interior and this Administration to fully invest-in and modernize our national parks.
4. If you could give one piece of advice for new Members of Congress, what would it be?
Rep. Ross: Outside of joining the RV Caucus of course, I would advise them to be very involved in setting up their new office and to really get to know their staff right away. Loyalty is one of the best things you can have throughout this whole experience and something you should look for when hiring staff.
I would also advise them to reach across the aisle and develop and value those relationships. Legislation is not something that should be representative of one person’s ideas. It is important to be open-minded and understand the best argument contrary to your own opinion. Yes, the left may want bigger government and the right may want smaller government, but I think we can all agree we do not want bad government. It is important to take time to find our commonalities and move forward from there.
The RV industry is thankful for Rep. Ross’ service; he is a true friend and champion of the industry and we wish him well as he enjoys his retirement. We sat down with the Congressman before his impending departure and got his thoughts on the importance of the RV Caucus and the future of the RV industry. We sincerely thank him for being a committed supporter of the industry.
SOURCE: RVIA News & Insights