Thursday, April 12, 2018

DEMA Requests Nominations for 2018 Reaching Out Awards

**Deadline for Online Submissions is 4:30 p.m. Pacific Time on Friday, June 1, 2018**
DEMA is requesting nominations for the prestigious Reaching Out Award. Industry professionals are asked to consider nominating colleagues who have made the most positive contributions to the growth and sustainability of the Diving Industry, going beyond the norm of their day-to-day jobs and reaching out to make a difference for all. Nomination alone for this internationally recognized award is an achievement to be celebrated, and recipients are the true luminaries of the Industry. Acknowledging your colleague’s phenomenal influence on our Industry is a crucial part of carrying their legacy into the future.
Since 1989, the Reaching Out Award has been presented to individuals who have advanced the Industry in unique ways, often developing products, programs, services and events that changed diving for the better. Areas of contribution have included equipment design, exploration, photography, publishing, retailing, science, training, travel and water safety. For complete details review the 2018 Reaching Out Award Nomination Form.  All nominees must have been active in the Diving Industry for a minimum of 10 years and made a significant contribution to the sport of scuba diving.
Selected recipients are inducted into the Industry’s Hall of Fame as the leaders and heroes of our sport; the people who have helped make diving what it is today.  DEMA continues to honor recipients each year during the annual DEMA ShowGet started on your nominations now!  If you have any questions about submitting a Reaching Out Award nomination contact DEMA at (858) 616-6408 or roa@dema.org.

Sustainable Shark Fisheries and Trade Act

The Sustainable Shark Fisheries and Trade Act was recently introduced in the US House of Representatives. HR 5248 is a bi-partisan bill introduced in Congress in mid-March. It establishes a certification process to ensure that foreign nations engaging in the shark trade into or through the United States conserve and manage populations of sharks in a manner that is comparable to regulatory programs in the US and effectively prohibits the practice of removing shark fins and discarding the carcass at sea.
The market for shark fins, oil and meat, and other products drives a large international trade.  The demand for fins, the key ingredient in shark fin soup, is one of the greatest threats facing shark populations around the world. According to some studies, humans kill as many as 11,000 sharks per hour.  Fins from as many as 73 million sharks end up in the global market every year and more than 70 percent of the most common shark species involved with the fin trade are considered at high or very high risk of extinction. While shark finning is illegal in US waters, shark fins continue to be bought and sold throughout the US.  This bill will limit the supply of these products in the US to those that are certified and meet the stringent criteria contained in the bill.
The Sustainable Shark Fisheries and Trade Act, establishes criteria for determining whether a nation has, and effectively enforces, regulatory programs for the conservation and management of sharks and creates measures to prohibit shark finning that are comparable to those of the United States, including, at a minimum, a requirement that such programs be consistent with the national standards for fishery conservation and management set forth in section 301(a) of the Magnuson-Stevens Conservation and Management Act (16 U.S.C. 1851).  The bill also has provisions for the protection of skates and rays.
We strongly urge you to contact your elected representatives in Congress and share how this bill could protect the shark population as well as how your business and the recreational diving industry are made stronger by divers’ ability to see these creatures in the wild.  Your message to your Representative and Senator should be personalized and we encourage you to add details about the work of your organization and how this bill would impact your company and the citizens you serve. 
DEMA is supporting this bill and asks all members of the diving industry to join us in contacting your legislators to vote for the passage of this important piece of legislation.  You can easily do so by joining our campaign to support HR 5248.  When you complete the campaign form, your comments will be sent directly to your representative.
If you are able to contact your Representative or Senator, and receive any kind of feedback, please let us know right away.  DEMA will continue to work toward supporting this bill and share updates on this issue as they become available. If you have questions about this issue, please email DEMA at publicpolicy@dema.org or contact us at 858-616-6408. 
PLEASE ACT TODAY TO SEND LAWMAKERS A MESSAGE TO PASS H. R. 5248, THE SUSTAINABLE SHARK FISHERIES AND TRADE ACT.
DEMA, the Diving Equipment & Marketing Association, is an international organization dedicated to the sustained growth of the recreational scuba diving and snorkeling industry.  For more information on DEMA, call 858-616-6408 or visit www.dema.org.  

Thursday, April 5, 2018

DEMA President and CEO, Tom Ingram, Travels to Washington on Non-Profit Tax Issues

 
Diving Equipment and Marketing Association (DEMA) President Tom Ingram, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Joy Alafia, President, Western Propane Gas Association (WPGA).
On March 22, a delegation of association executives, including DEMA President Tom Ingram traveled to Washington DC to meet with Senators and Representatives to discuss tax issues for non-profits arising out of the massive tax overhaul signed into law by President Trump on December 22, 2017.  The California delegation was part of Capitol Hill visits organized through the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE).  Ingram serves on ASAE’s Legislative Committee. 
Ingram met with staff and lawmakers in the offices of California Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, as well as with California Representatives Karen Bass, Ami Bera, Judy Chu, John Garamendi, Doris Matsui, Jackie Speier, and Maxine Waters.
Throughout the legislative process, DEMA, ASAE and other associations monitored provisions in the tax reform bill that would impact 501c (non-profit) organizations of all kinds, including many of DEMA’s members.  Through these efforts, several harmful provisions were stripped from the bill, including:
Taxation of royalty income: This provision was in the original Senate bill but was removed after opposition from the association community.  Associations opposing this provision contended that “royalties” should not be taxed when the organization has entered into a licensing arrangement for use of its name or logo but is not actively involved in the marketing or administration of the product or service connected with the arrangement.
Royalties are a significant source of non-dues revenue or non-contributed revenue that can be reinvested in education, skills training, standard-setting, research and other activities critical to the mission of a tax-exempt entity, such as DEMA. Thanks to the advocacy work on behalf of DEMA’s non-profit members, passive income from royalties will not be subject to Unrelated Business Income Tax (UBIT).
Non-qualified deferred compensation plans: This provision was originally in both the House and Senate bills and would have eliminated 457 plans for associations and other nonprofit employers. DEMA and other associations made the case that these deferred compensation arrangements are offered to many employees of tax-exempt organizations as a means of supplementing their retirement income. Since nonprofit employers can’t offer performance stock options to key employees, 457 plans are an important benefit in attracting top employee talent. The provision was removed from both bills before passage.
Intermediate sanctions: This provision was originally in the Senate bill and would have applied intermediate sanction rules to 501c groups, giving the IRS the power to determine what constitutes “reasonable” employee compensation and benefits, rather than having this determination made by a governing non-profit Board or committee.  This provision was removed from the Senate bill before passage.
Noteworthy Provisions Included in Final Bill:
Separate computation of UBIT: This provision in the bill requires that unrelated business taxable income be separately computed for each business activity. In other words, associations are prevented from offsetting losses from one business with income from another business. DEMA and other associations are currently reviewing how this will impact non-dues revenue, with the goal of continuing to offset costs and contribute additional funding to diving industry-related projects and programs. 
Charitable contributions: Although DEMA is not a charitable tax-exempt organization, many DEMA member organizations fall into this category.  The new tax bill increases the adjusted gross income (AGI) limit on the charitable contributions deduction from 50% to 60% for cash gifts. However, the final bill roughly doubles the standard deduction to $12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for couples. With a higher standard deduction, fewer taxpayers will itemize their deductions on their tax returns and therefore won’t receive a benefit for giving to charities. This provision may reduce charitable giving, and charitable organizations should review the impact of this issue on their revenue streams. 
Local lobbying expenses: The bill eliminates the deduction for lobbying expenses regarding legislation before local government bodies. As a result, these expenses will need to be included in the calculation of non-deductible membership dues or proxy tax liability.  DEMA currently notifies members of the percentage of membership dues accounted for by all state and federal lobbying, but this provision will make county, and other local-level lobbying part of that non-deductible expense.
Johnson Amendment: A provision in the House bill would have effectively repealed the Johnson Amendment, which prevents 501c (3) groups from participating or intervening in political campaigns. The provision was removed from the final bill because it conflicted with the Senate’s Byrd rule, which prevents reconciliation bills from containing provisions that aren’t fiscal in nature. Efforts to repeal the Johnson Amendment to allow 501 c (3) leaders to engage in political speech are expected to continue.
Excise tax on investment income of private colleges and universities: The tax bill imposes a 1.4% excise tax on the net investment income of private colleges and universities that have more than 500 full-time equivalent students and assets of at least $500,000 per full-time equivalent student. Several private universities are DEMA Members and may be impacted by this provision.

DEMA Legislative Alert – Meeting in Fort Lauderdale, Florida Regarding Goliath Grouper

A meeting of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will take place on April 25 and 26 at the Marriott, Fort Lauderdale North, 6650 North Andrews Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33309; phone 954-771-0440.     
On Thursday morning, April 26th, starting at 8:30 AM, the  FWC Staff and Commissioner will review and discuss the  Goliath Grouper, including biology, stock status, and stakeholder feedback.  The Staff is seeking Commission direction on next steps for Goliath Grouper management in state waters, which may include limited harvestPlease note that the time and date of this discussion could change.  The FWC meeting agenda, and topics planned can be found on the FWC website here.
You may recall that DEMA favors continuing the current moratorium on harvesting the Goliath Grouper. DEMA has also surveyed members of the Diving Industry and determined that 73% of the divers responding favored continuing the moratorium.
DEMA’s Legislative Advocate Bob Harris, and President Tom Ingram will be in attendance at this meeting to provide DEMA’s position to the Commission. YOUR public comments and input are also needed at this meeting; public comments opposed to lifting the moratorium could help maintain the current status, thereby preventing harvesting of this animal, which is slow to mature and reproduce.  There are substantial arguments against harvest, some of which can be found here.  Without your public comments, the status of the current moratorium could change, allowing harvesting of the Goliath Grouper for the first time since the 1990’s.  If you dive or live in Florida, or enjoy seeing these beautiful creatures unharmed, such a change in the moratorium status could impact your ability (and your customers’ ability) to see these animals.
DEMA will host a free meeting of DEMA Members and Dive Operators on the evening of April 25 from 6:30 – 8:00 p.m.  in the Marriott, Fort Lauderdale North’s private dining room, to discuss strategy for the FWC meeting the next day.  Space is limited, and we ask you to RSVP for this meeting by registering here or emailing us at publicpolicy@dema.org
DEMA urges all professional members of the diving community to join DEMA in attending this Commission meeting to offer public comment in favor of maintaining the current moratorium on harvest of the Goliath Grouper.  Public comments will be accepted at the end of each meeting day.  More diving community voices will be helpful. 
For those unable to attend or wishing to submit written comments prior the beginning of the Committee meeting, send your comments to Commissioners@MyFWC.com

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

DEMA Show 2018 Call for Speakers

DEMA Show is soliciting proposals for speaker abstracts for the upcoming Show taking place November 14 - 17, 2018 at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, NV.

Those interested in being a part of the Official DEMA Sponsored Educational Program at DEMA Show 2018 should submit a proposal by March 23, 2018.

Prior to submitting a proposal please note the speaker specifications:
  • Proposed session abstracts must be submitted using the online application in order to be considered.
  • Limited honorariums and travel expenses will be considered. Please note: DEMA does not cover incidental charges.
  • Speakers are encouraged to submit multiple abstracts covering different topics. Speakers presenting more than one session are viewed favorably as a cost-effective option.
  • Sessions are not repeated.
  • DEMA may wish to record your session for posting on DEMA's websites for member access.


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Florida Dive in Day Promotes Important Industry Issues

Last week, DEMA sponsored "Dive in Day" at the Florida Capitol. The annual event provides Members the opportunity to visit the Capitol, showcase their diving-related products and services, and promote issues that are important to the scuba diving industry.
This year's Dive in Day at the Capitol hosted Florida's 160 legislators; the Governor and his staff; and hundreds of Florida visitors. The first floor of the Capitol was reserved by DEMA so Florida dive businesses had the opportunity to showcase Florida's recreational diving businesses. Among those attending were students from Covenant Christian School who had developed and demonstrated a lionfish trap for deployment in deep water, beyond recreational diving limits. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) co-located with DEMA's event, with FWC on the second floor of the Capitol Building, giving visitors the opportunity to try lionfish samples. Additionally, a mobile aquarium exhibition from the Gulf Specimen Lab was on display to demonstrate the perils caused by the number of lionfish invading Florida waters. DEMA Members and DEMA Staff also met with Florida state Senators and Representatives over the course of the event to discuss the lionfish issue. In addition to showcasing local businesses, DEMA distributed information to Legislators and visitors educating them on the size of the diving industry in Florida and its importance to jobs, tourism and the economy, with a focus on lionfish awareness.
Thank you to everyone who helped make this year's Dive in Day such a success! We appreciate your support!

Friday, February 2, 2018

DEMA Introduces 2018 Board of Directors

The results of DEMA's 2018 Board of Directors Election are in! Members of DEMA's 2018 Board of Directors include the following individuals:
A1-ManufacturingMike Hollis, Aqua Lung
Jenna Meistrell, Body Glove*
A2-Diver Certification and Training AgenciesDallas, Edmiston, NAUI
Kristin Valette-Wirth, PADI*
A3-Dive Publishing, Media, Consulting and Non-Retail Service ProvidersJerry Beaty, Dive Training Magazine*Dan Orr, Dan Orr Consulting
A4-RetailersPatrick Hammer, Scuba Emporium*Myra Kurn, Ocean Enterprises, Inc.
A5-Travel & ResortsStuart Cove, Stuart Cove’s Dive Bahamas
Tim Webb, Caradonna Dive Adventures*
*New/Re-elected members
In accordance with the DEMA Bylaws, Directors serve three-year terms. Additional information on DEMA's Board of Directors and Bylaws is available online.  The election was conducted by CPA firm, Gray, Proctor & McMannis, based in Newport Beach, CA. All A-category DEMA Members who had joined or renewed their DEMA Membership for 2018 by 1/15/18 were eligible to vote in this election. The final vote count is available for DEMA Members who are logged into the Members-Only Dashboard of www.dema.org.
Congratulations to all of DEMA's Directors!  In the coming weeks, the Board will meet to conduct officer elections, form committees and select individuals to chair them.  Contact us at toll free (800) 862-DIVE (3483), (858) 616-6408 or info@dema.org if you have any questions or are interested in serving on one of the DEMA Board committees. Additional Committee information can be found online here. Thank you for your continued support!