Repeal of Gas Guzzler Tax Considered

Posted on July 7, 2003 by LCT Staff - Also by this author - About the author

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Congressional officials, after hearing from National Limousine Association leaders during their third annual “Day on the Hill,” said they will move toward introducing a measure that would eliminate the much-reviled Gas Guzzler Tax.

Joanna Foust, the legislative assistant of Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., presented a draft proposal to NLA officials and said she had received phone calls of support from the offices of six other congressmen visited by NLA officials.

NLA president Scott Solombrino expressed cautious optimism that the NLA’s long-time goal of removing the tax might now be moving forward but acknowledged that congressional approval of the measure remains distant.

“We can only hope to have it done by the end of [this congressional] session, which is December 2004,” Solombrino said.

The Day on the Hill, led by NLA lobbyist Barry Lefkowitz, brought 25 NLA leaders to Washington to meet with congressional officials. They split into teams and visited the offices of 35 senators and representatives in 15- to 30-minute increments during a seven-hour blitz.

They told elected officials and their staffs that limousines now get better mileage than when the tax was first imposed and no longer “guzzle” gas. They also noted that limousines are designed to carry several passengers and actually help take vehicles off the street.

The tax, which ranges from $1,300 to $2,100 per vehicle, is imposed on coachbuilders, who pass it along to the operators who purchase their vehicles. It was imposed on several industries in 1991 but has since been lifted for all but limousines.

In presenting the gas guzzler draft legislation to Don Kensey, of Au Premiere Limousine in Bellmawr, N.J., and chair of the NLA Legislative Committee, Foust said she had received phone calls of support from the offices of Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., and Reps. Michael Capuano, D-Mass.; Joseph Knollenberg, R- Mich.; Jerry Costello, D-Ill.; Richard Neal, D-Mass., and Rob Andrews, D-N.J., all of which had earlier been visited by NLA members.

NLA leaders also lobbied congressional officials to revoke a potentially damaging overtime wage rule. Department of Transportation officials recently changed a regulation that, under certain situations, now requires limousine operators to pay overtime wages to their chauffeurs, dispatchers and reservationists.

Rep. Andrews said he would write Transportation Department Secretary Norman Mineta explaining the position of the limousine industry and asking him to revoke the change.

The “Day on the Hill” concluded at a fundraiser, where the NLA presented a check for more $20,000 to help finance the re-election effort of Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo. Blunt introduced the Real Interstate Driver Equity Act, which was signed into law in November of 2002 and prohibits states from imposing laws or fees on vehicles licensed in other states.

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