Association News - Goverment Relations - March 2019

Advocacy Day 2016-12
IAAPA U.S. Advocacy Days provide IAAPA members based in the United States the unique opportunity to meet with key members of Congress on Capitol Hill.

Discover the Benefits of IAAPA’s North America Advocacy Initiatives

by Juanita Chavarro Arias

IAAPA has long served as the industry voice for safety, advocacy, and government relations, working to protect members’ interests on issues ranging from ride safety and accessibility to employment practices. IAAPA team members in offices around the world work with government officials to create and support smart regulations that ensure safe experiences for all. With the safety of guests and employees as the global attractions industry’s No. 1 priority, IAAPA promotes the development of safety standards worldwide, working with ASTM International, European Committee for Standardization (CEN), International Organization for Standardization (ISO), China Special Equipment Inspection and Research Institute (CSEI), and other standards-setting groups to develop and update industry safety and maintenance requirements. Moreover, the association regularly informs members about the latest best practices and issues impacting the industry.

In North America, the IAAPA Safety and Advocacy team is based out of Alexandria, Virginia, and is made up of Randy Davis, senior vice president of safety and advocacy; Erika Scheffer, director of state advocacy; and Austin Gold, senior manager of advocacy. This team ensures IAAPA remains the leading association in U.S. federal and state government relations for the attractions industry, providing numerous benefits to members, including legislative and regulatory advocacy, special events, educational tools, and guidance on state and federal policy.


IAAPA team members regularly meet with policymakers to educate them on the industry, serve as a credible source of information on complex issues, and address the potential impact of legislative proposals. IAAPA also tracks U.S. federal and state legislation to keep members up to date on issues that affect the industry. This year, federal priority policy issues include ride safety, the U.S. State Department’s Summer Work Travel Cultural Exchange Program, unmanned aircraft systems (also known as drones), and labor policies. At the state level, policy issues include the school calendar, sales and excise taxes, minimum wage, paid sick leave, predictive scheduling, animals in professional care, and ride safety.

IAAPA members can follow legislative and regulatory developments through the U.S. Federal Legislative and Regulatory Tracking tool online at A version of the tool organized by state is also available to help members monitor bills and regulations that impact the industry in their area. (

Steve Earnest, senior vice president and general counsel for Herschend Enterprises, who is the immediate past chairman of the IAAPA North America Government Relations Subcommittee, recommends IAAPA members stay informed.

“The best advocates for our industry are those who know the issues and can effectively articulate IAAPA’s position on them,” he says. “I believe IAAPA members are mistaken if they think there is nothing they can do to impact what goes on Washington, D.C., or their state capitals. It is unlikely one person can influence a bill in Congress; however, by combining our efforts as an industry, we can have a significant impact.”

Additionally, IAAPA participates in coalitions and alliances to strengthen its impact and further policy goals of the travel and tourism industry.


During IAAPA U.S. Advocacy Days, IAAPA members can help lawmakers understand the pressing priority issues affecting the U.S. attractions industry.

IAAPA U.S. Advocacy Days

IAAPA annually hosts IAAPA U.S. Advocacy Days to provide U.S.-based members the unique opportunity to meet with key members of Congress on Capitol Hill. These face-to-face meetings are an effective way of helping lawmakers understand the pressing priority issues affecting the U.S. attractions industry and attendees’ businesses. During this two-day event, taking place this year from April 8 to 9 in Washington, D.C., IAAPA schedules visits with members of Congress for attendees and provides them with important policy briefings on priority issues. 

“IAAPA Advocacy Days have been greatly beneficial in expanding my knowledge of the issues that face our industry, as well as understanding the impact those issues have on IAAPA members, including my company,” says Earnest, a four-year event attendee. “Members bring real-world examples to help the folks in Washington understand who we are and why these issues are important to us.”

David Novstrup, ICAE, general manager and co-owner of Wylie Thunder Road and Thunder Mountain in South Dakota, has attended many IAAPA U.S. Advocacy Days, and to him, the event’s meetings are critical to building relationships with elected officials and informing them of the issues important to the attractions industry.  

“I have seen firsthand the difference IAAPA members have made over the years, so I would encourage all members to attend Advocacy Days,” he says. “These meetings give attendees the chance to learn more about what their elected officials are working on or what issues they see coming up in the near future.”

For details about this year’s event, visit

IAAPA Grassroots Action Center

The IAAPA Grassroots Action Center connects IAAPA members to elected officials. From time to time, IAAPA will send legislative alerts to members, informing them of pending legislation and directing them to the IAAPA Grassroots Action Center to send a pre-written message to elected officials.

Novstrup encourages IAAPA members to get involved.

“The states usually are proposing legislation that can help or hurt our industry, so the only way we can make a difference is by getting involved and sharing our story to elected government leaders and officials,” he says.

IAAPA recently rolled out a new website for the IAAPA Grassroots Action Center. Visit for more information.

IAAPA Political Action Committee

The IAAPA Political Action Committee (PAC) is a way for IAAPA members and team members to join together and donate to the campaigns of candidates who share an interest in the attractions industry. Federal law prohibits corporations or associations from donating to political campaigns; however, members, shareholders, and employees of these organizations can donate up to $5,000 annually to a PAC.

Eligible individuals employed by IAAPA member companies may contribute. A Permission to Solicit form is required by the Federal Election Commission before IAAPA can solicit eligible employees of member companies. Member companies are only permitted to grant one trade association permission to solicit their employees per calendar year. Contact Austin Gold at for more information.

Toolkit for Hosting Elected Officials

In addition to resources like the U.S. Federal and State Legislative and Regulatory Tracking tools, IAAPA offers a Toolkit for Hosting Elected Officials. By inviting elected officials to tour attractions, IAAPA members can demonstrate the positive impact their businesses have on surrounding communities and communicate their needs to representatives from their congressional districts and states. The toolkit can assist IAAPA members in arranging these visits, including tips for preparation, identifying the best elected officials and representatives to invite, identifying issues impacting their business, and promoting new initiatives, attractions, or programs. The Toolkit for Hosting Elected Officials is an online document available for download at

For more information, visit or contact