To ensure that Pennsylvania golf has its appropriate seat at the table on the issues that are most important to all of us, the Pennsylvania Golf Course Owners Association’s (PGO) comprehensive lobbying initiative includes:
- • Implementing a legislative strategy that prioritizes the goals and objectives of Pennsylvania’s golf industry, tracks and monitors state legislative/regulatory action on all issues important to the PGO and ensures cooperation with like-minded coalitions on these issues;
- • Engaging state legislators, legislative staff and members of the Administration on issues that are important to the industry through electronic communications, one-on-one meetings and larger discussions;
- • Arranging for representatives from the golf industry to provide testimony during Committee hearings and other similar opportunities;
- • Drafting position papers, support/opposition letters, emails, testimony and other reports and documents that articulate the golf industry’s position on policy issues that are important to the PGO; and
- • Assisting individual facilities with state government-related issues specific to them.
PGO’s goals/recent accomplishments include:
- • Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) – The PGO is a key participant in Pennsylvania’s WIP and a driving force in the ongoing discussion regarding implementation of statewide fertilizer regulations. This legislation, Senate Bill 1191, introduced by Senator Mike Brubaker, was crafted with great input from the PGO and its partners. When this process began, the golf industry was viewed as having no concern for the health of the Chesapeake Bay but was instead only interested in producing green grass. However, our engagement on the issue enabled us to educate the WIP planners about the industry’s self-regulation. Consequently, there is now a realization that our self-regulation is more beneficial to the bay than what was originally proposed. Currently, SB 1191 is in the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee and is unlikely to receive a vote before the end of the legislative session on November 30, 2012 but should be viewed as a victory in that we are much better off now than when the regulations were originally proposed. Additionally, through this process the PGO has developed a strong relationship with and gained the trust of Senator Brubaker and our efforts have ensured that no future attempt at enacting statewide fertilizer regulations will move forward in Pennsylvania without the PGO’s input.
- • Black Fly Abatement Funding – Funding for Pennsylvania’s Black Fly abatement program has been cut significantly over the last five years culminating with an additional three percent cut in the 2012-13 budget. The golf industry is acutely aware of the serious problems black fly infestations cause not only to the industry but to the affected communities as a whole. With this in mind, the PGO has launched an effort to make increasing black fly abatement funding a priority in the 2013-14 budget cycle. We have met with Senator Mike Brubaker and explained the ramifications not adequately funding the abatement program and he has agreed to make this a priority for his office in next year’s budget.
- • Pennsylvania Liquor Code Revisions – The PGO scored victories in the recent revisions to Pennsylvania’s Liquor Code, HB 242, by insuring that golf courses can now sell alcohol at 9 am on Sunday mornings. Additionally, the penalties for noise violation were also modified. HB 242 removes noise violations from the list of what Liquor Control Enforcement (LCE) considers during the liquor license renewal process and LCE will now investigate noise violation from the edge of the property as oppose to outside a building. PGO member concerns with the Pennsylvania Liquor Code are being considered as additional code revisions are discussed.
- • The Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC) Fee Increases – PGO ensured that the SRBC fee increase for water usage was spread out over a period of several years as opposed to requiring payment immediately. We continue to monitor for fee increases.
- • Sales Tax Expansion – PGO fought to remove greens fees from the list of items to be included in sales tax expansion and remains vigilant for new attempts to include greens fees as efforts to phase out property taxes continue.
- • Amusement Tax – PGO was able to ensure that in municipalities where amusement taxes are imposed on greens fees, the base on which the tax is levied is not more than forty percent of the total greens fee. PGO continues to assist members navigate this issue with their home municipalities.
- • Key Business Issues – Ensure that the legislature looks to the PGO as a resource when considering key business issues such as the minimum wage, unemployment and workers compensation, drought and water management issues, business tax cut proposals and mandatory school start dates.