Congressman Rob Andrews
Congressman Rob Andrews of New Jersey was invaluable in getting our industry’s landmark interstate commerce legislation passed on November 26, 2002. The Real Interstate Drivers Equity Act of 2001 (HR2546) prohibits regulatory bodies from making unfair demands on operators visiting from other states, breaking down barriers of free trade. At the same time, it encourages safety and professionalism, allowing states to require drug screenings and criminal background checks of all operators. We sat down with Mr. Andrews for 10 Minutes recently, and here’s what we heard from this “Champion of Our Industry.”
LCT: Can you give me some background on hour you got involved so closely with the limousine industry?
Andrews: It’s a classic example of how government is supposed to work. Don (Kensey) and Jim (Mosely) called my office and came to see me about four years ago. They indicated they had a concern about problems of dropping of and picking up people in New York. I listened to them describe the problem, did some research on it and it occurred to me it was a classic example of unfair, anti-competitive practices. Certain people were not being allowed to compete for business because other people didn’t want them to. Our whole economy is really built on a different principal than that.
LCT: Did you know Don Kensey prior to getting on this or did he call you cold?
Andrews: I actually knew Don because I’ve used his company as a client. We also had some mutual personal friends.
LCT: When did Barry Lefkowitz get involved?
Andrews: At my suggestion, the group talked to Barry, who was an experienced lobbyist. The word lobbyist has taken on a very negative connection in American politics and I think that’s a shame. Lobbyists are people who serve as a bridge between government and groups of people who have a problem - like the limo owners did. Barry is very experienced and skilled at helping people solve those problems, so he and I and the business owners thought about a legislative solution to the problem. We drafted a bill, got it introduced to Congress and went trying to find other people to support it. Fortunately, as the limo owners, Barry and some others networked around the country, they found allies. One of the allies was a company who builds limousines, based in Missouri (Springfield Coach Builders). They went to their Congressman, Roy Blunt, who is a republican.
LCT: So it was the democrats and republicans working together?
Andrews: Yes. Roy Blunt is a very important person in the republican caucus. Roy and I met, went over the legislation, and agreed it was a good thing to do. It was in no way political. He took the lead in introducing it in the old Congress (the 170th) two years ago and we went through the process. We got the bill through the Transportation Committee, we took it to the House floor, we lobbied senators and we got the Senate to approve it. Senator Torricelli (Dem) was very helpful in working on this bill; Senator Corzine (Dem) got involved as well. We had to negotiate with Senator McCain (Rep) since he’s one of the leaders of the committee in the Senate that would have jurisdiction over it, the Commerce Committee. We were able to get the Senate to slightly modify the bill and send it back to the House. It came back to the House in early December and passed by voice vote. The President signed it a couple of days later.
It was one of those instances where a law got made in the way that our civics books tells us it should. Citizens came to their Congressman, they described their problem and we worked together. We found allies on both political parties, in both the House and the Senate, we negotiated over differences in the bill and got it enacted.