Scott Solombrino recently sat down with LCT Associate publisher/Eastern Region Neil Weiss to discuss the NLA’s goals for the coming year. Solombrino, who is serving his third consecutive term as NLA president, owns the Dav EI Chauffeured Transportation Network.
Q: What are the NLA’s legislative goals for 2004?
A: The first one is the Gas Guzzler Tax exemption. The Senate passed the Gas Guzzler bill this winter as a part of $325 billion transportation package, and now it’s on its way to the House. This would put real money into the pockets of operators about $2,000 a car.
The second legislative initiative is an amendment to change back the overtime wage law. The limousine industry was exempted from overtime wages for 64 years. But some administrator made a bureaucratic change to the policy in 1999.
Q: What are other goals for 2004?
A: We announced the formation of the NLA endowment fund at the LCT Show in February. The NLA is trying to raise at least $1 million over the next five years.
The principal would stay in the fund indefinitely to make the NLA financially self-sufficient. We raised more than $100.000 at the show.
We’ve also got a big push to increase membership. As we grow, we will have more clout in Washington and at the state levels.
Q: Have you seen a recent increase in membership?
A: Our efforts have been paying off. We have a committee that works on increasing membership benefits. People are also realizing that being a member of the NLA helps them succeed. They not only get discount on products they use every day, we help them solve their local regulatory problems.
Q: Do you bare plans to help state and local associations this year?
A: The biggest initiative we have is in California. We had a meeting in February with the California associations and their key members. They’re going to merge into one association.
Our goal is to help them workers compensation, airport issues and the way overtime is calculated.
Barry [Lefkowitz, NLA lobbyist] will be working closely with the NLA board to help California.
We are helping operators in Portland, Ore., where the taxi commission outlawed the use of sedans for limousine businesses without a medallion.
And we met with the Maryland, Virginia and Washington. D.C. associations because we were told that the interstate commerce law, which we helped pass last year, was not being enforced correctly by the three area’s agencies.
The problems local associations face are just as important as the ones we face on a national level.
Q: Is there an initiative to expand international membership?
A: Yes. Operators from Europe want exposure in the U.S. Even though the rules are different from country to country, the international community can learn a lot from us.
We’re going to have a meeting in Canada sometime in May to try to unify the county.