In this monthly feature, Hunter Moorhead, Executive Vice President of Crossroads Strategies, offers updates on the legislative landscape in Washington, D.C. and the areas in which he is advocating on behalf of the PGA of America. Prior to joining Crossroads in 2010, Moorhead spent 12 years in government service in both the legislative and executive branches, including serving on the White House National Economic Council as Special Assistant to President George W. Bush.
Q: What is the purpose of National Golf Day, which took place on Capitol Hill in late April?
A: Each year the golf industry hosts the annual “National Golf Day” – which actually takes place over two days – on Capitol Hill. This initiative allows our industry to highlight the economic impact and importance of the golf industry and our stakeholder groups. For 2018, the participants conducted 218 meetings with members of both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. This important day has become our annual fly-in to press legislators and Executive branch officials to advocate for policies and regulations that positively impact the golf industry.
Q: Why is this important for the PGA of America?
A: National Golf Day allows our membership to impact certain legislative proposals, build relationships with elected officials and highlight the PGA’s role within the golf industry. In addition, it’s crucial for us to participate with other golf-related entities considering our work toward growing and teaching the game of golf. More importantly, we build relationships that can positively impact the federal and state legislative processes. For instance, the relationships we have built proved beneficial last year when we faced elimination of our non-profit status and advocated for hurricane assistance legislation.
Q: Who participates in the event and what priorities were presented to Members of Congress?
A: Each year, the PGA of America sends both leadership and individual Members representing the association to Capitol Hill. This year Jason Becker of Naples, Florida was the individual Member who made the rounds with us. We Are Golf – our industry coalition – leads the effort, planning receptions, press conferences and basic logistics for National Golf Day. The goal of We Are Golf is to ensure laws and regulations are fair and appropriate across the golf industry. Each year, golf’s major associations participate and agree to certain legislative priorities that become the focus of all Congressional meetings. For the PGA of America, we met with Members of Congress who represent areas hosting our championships. For example, we met with Rep. Ann Wagner of Missouri’s second Congressional District, which includes Bellerive Country Club.
For 2018, the industry focused on the importance of the H-2B visa cap, the previous Administration’s Overtime Pay Rule and the Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act. The challenge with the H-2B program is the annual cap limiting the number of seasonal workers. Our industry needs a workable program that allows an adequate number of working individuals while avoiding burdensome applications and processes. While the courts took action to curtail the Obama Administration’s overtime regulations, we continue to monitor how the Trump Administration may propose new overtime regulations. The PHIT Act is one that would really benefit PGA Professionals. This legislation allows individuals to use pre-tax medical funds to help pay for physical activities. If enacted, Health Savings Accounts (HSA’s) would be expanded for physical activity, including golf lessons and green fees. This legislation has been identified as another method for addressing inactivity and obesity.
Q: How was the golf industry treated in the recent hurricane disaster assistance legislation passed by Congress?
A: Previously, Congress has included language excluding the golf industry from all hurricane assistance legislation. This was done by certain Members of Congress who identified a list of businesses that shouldn’t qualify for any government assistance. Following Florida and Texas hurricanes, we successfully worked to remove the prohibition language. With that becoming law, golf courses and entities are now eligible for hurricane assistance programs, the same as other businesses.
Q: The U.S. Supreme Court has struck down the law against national legalized sports betting, which opens up new forms of revenue and fan engagement. Most of the professional leagues are calling on Congress to create a standard framework by passing federal legislation as a better alternative to each state establishing its own rules. How likely is it that Congress will take this up, and if so, what might it look like?
A: The Supreme Court decision has created an opportunity for sports leagues and fans to shift these activities into a more transparent environment. It will be important for Congress to take action and provide the national framework necessary to protect the integrity of sports betting and avoid over-burdensome regulation. In addition, data privacy and payment methods will be an important part of any legislation.
Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah has publicly stated that he will soon introduce comprehensive legislation to address sports betting and the Supreme Court’s decision. We will provide updates should Congress take action.
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