Louie Perry, co-founder and partner of Washington, D.C.-based Cornerstone Government Affairs (the NLA’s lobbying firm), discussed the NLA’s 2016 legislative agenda during a briefing session at the International LCT Show in Las Vegas.
LAS VEGAS, Nev. — As the election year speeds up, the National Limousine Association
’s lobbying firm updated association members on the state of national legislative affairs during the recent International LCT Show.
Assessing the Presidential candidates and their positions on TNCs, Perry noted many Republicans (notably Ted Cruz) embrace TNCs as “innovative technology companies,” while Bernie Sanders has expressed serious concerns with TNCs skirting regulations. Perry said Hillary Clinton believes labor rules should reflect the way the new on-demand economy is changing work, but hasn’t specifically talked about worker misclassification — a point the industry is making against TNCs which classify their workers as independent contractors, yet regulate and manage them as employees.
Perry also said lobbying initiatives on Capitol Hill are finding traction, citing Sen. Mark Warner’s (D-Va.) concern over the unregulated “sharing economy,” and Sen. Sherod Brown’s (D-Ohio) bill cracking down on independent contractor misclassification.
Looking at the battle ahead, Perry said he is seeing increasing “pushback” against TNCs, notably at the U.S. Department of Labor and at state DOLs in Oregon and California that have ruled TNC drivers are employees, and with a major California worker misclassification class-action lawsuit against Uber. In addition, the media has increased scrutiny of TNCs, especially criminal behavior among drivers, and more strikes by Uber drivers nationwide. The business press has tackled Uber’s misclassification problems and its tax evasion strategy, he added.
On the flip side, Uber is taking its fight directly to the states, establishing lobbying footholds in more than 35 states, and fighting any and all bills and regulations that would impose stricter background, safety and insurance regulations, Perry said.
Looking at the 2016 legislative agenda, Perry said the firm will continue to lobby Congress on the industry’s behalf, especially legislators who support the NLA’s position on TNCs, and continue to pressure the DOL about TNC independent contractor issues. He also was optimistic that any post-election discussion on comprehensive tax reform would include issues such as TNCs avoiding paying taxes in the U.S.
Perry urged NLA members to continue to lobby their respective municipal and state legislators. He called on them to reiterate the NLA’s position: Maintain the private transportation industry’s commitment to passenger safety by adhering to current rules and regulations and duty-of-care responsibilities towards passengers.
The three NLA talking points operators should use to “tell their story” when engaging legislators and the media about TNC safety concerns are: Lack of adequate insurance to protect passengers, driver employment status (employee or contractor), and the false claim TNCs are not transportation companies.
With no end in sight to the partisan divide in Washington that has stymied cooperation on legislative matters, Perry said 42 House and Senate members will not seek re-election in 2016. With a new President and fresh faces on Capitol Hill, added pressure will be needed to counter illegal TNCs and ensure the long-term viability of the private ground transportation industry.