Back to the Future: Honolulu – 1973 September 7, 2010Posted by Matt Long in Daily Wrap-ups, Photos.
Thirty-seven years ago, in mid-November to be exact, the NASBLA Annual Conference took place in Honolulu, Hawaii. Even though a lot has happened in the nearly four decades since we last visited the islands as an association, it’s amazing to look back at how our core mission truly has remained the same – protecting the lives of the boating public.
A look back at the meeting notes of that conference shows a lot of similarities to the issues we still discuss today, and surprising discussions on issues we now consider to be status quo.
According to the meeting summary report from 1973, NBSAC was a topic of discussion as NASBLA fought for equal representation of BLAs on the advisory council. Apparently, a fact I hadn’t realized, state members did not have the same number of representatives as did industry and public members. Obviously, this parity issue was resolved as we now enjoy that level of parity on the council.
Taxation was another topic of discussion. NASBLA endorsed a system of excise tax on boats, which was fiercely opposed at the time by the National Boating Federation. Certainly, this train of thought was a precursor to the system of user taxes that in part comprise the Sportfish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund. It was these early discussions though that helped shape and mold the successful system of user pay/user benefit that is in use today.
What really shocked me was a mention though of compulsory operator licensing. Apparently NASBLA in 1973 went on record in opposition to mandatory licensing, which was being promoted by the Coast Guard. While national licensing is still something NASBLA does not support, the issue of mandatory education is alive and well and will be featured in a town hall discussion at this year’s conference.
The final thing that got my attention was the seemingly complex system of state reporting that was organized by NASBLA. At that time, lacking a national infrastructure, NASBLA collected forms on everything from level of boating law conformity amongst the states to the more expected educational activities. It drives home the importance the association had in the early days at truly helping craft the system of boating safety laws currently in code throughout the country.
As we once again gather to meet and discuss in Honolulu, it is important to look back and reflect on the work our predecessors have done in order to get us to this point. Perhaps more important though is to consider future generations and the impact we have on them as we continue to make decisions affecting not only the association, but the country.