Political Climate Brightens For Limo Industry

Posted on May 16, 2017 by - Also by this author

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NLA lobbyist Louie Perry of Cornerstone Goverment Affairs in Washington, D.C., addresses the NLA membership Monday, March 16, 2017 during the International LCT Show in Las Vegas (LCT photo)
NLA lobbyist Louie Perry of Cornerstone Goverment Affairs in Washington, D.C., addresses the NLA membership Monday, March 16, 2017 during the International LCT Show in Las Vegas (LCT photo)

LAS VEGAS — The Republican wave that swept the Presidential, Congressional, and state races points to an overall economic and political climate favorable to the U.S. chauffeured transportation industry, NLA members and attendees to the International LCT Show were told March 13.

The change in Washington, D.C. could bring a harder look and outright rollback of certain regulations and other rules hamstringing the predominantly small to medium sized businesses that make up the industry. [A Congressional failure March 24 to pass an alternative to the Affordable Care Act delays any relief for companies offering employer-based health care plans].

The overall industry political outlook was delivered by the National Limousine Association’s two lobbyists, Louie Perry and Todd Webster, executives at Cornerstone Government Affairs in Washington, D.C., during the NLA’s Annual Membership Meeting.

The 2016 shake-up election put outsider tycoon Donald Trump into the White House, with 52 Republicans and 48 Democrats, including two Democrat-leaning independents, in the U.S. Senate, and 238 Republicans and 193 Democrats in the House of Representatives, with four vacancies due to Cabinet appointments. The 2018 Senate election map favors Republicans, with 25 Democratic seats versus eight Republican ones up for re-election.

This year, Congress and President Trump could pursue comprehensive tax reform that includes lower rates for corporations, S Corps, and 100% expensing of capital purchases, and a $1 trillion infrastructure package. Both Trump’s plan and the House of Representative’s “Better Way” plan seek to decrease tax rates for “Main Street” businesses.

Todd Webster, vice president at Cornerstone Government Affairs joins Perry in the annual legislatie presentation to the NLA membership (LCT photo)
Todd Webster, vice president at Cornerstone Government Affairs joins Perry in the annual legislatie presentation to the NLA membership (LCT photo)
Webster and Perry presented a power point outlining top developments affecting the chauffeured transportation industry:

• Uber’s sexual harassment case exposes its culture of defiance and rule-breaking that seems to be finally catching up to the TNC. Uber has been beset with sexual misconduct and discrimination claims, the potential theft of 14,000 emails related to its autonomous vehicle code, a #DeleteUber social media protest campaign in the wake of its CEO Travis Kalanick serving on Trump’s business advisory council, and the use of a Greyball tool to deceive authorities worldwide.

• Uber has spent $1.36 million on federal lobbying activity in 2016, tripling its expenditure in 2015.

• New Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao is engaged with issues possibly favoring the industry: Reexamining the DOT 15-point “safety assessment” issued last September; wants to ensure DOT “is a catalyst for safe, efficient technologies, not an impediment”; and concerned about impact on employment.

• Automakers along with Google and Apple are seeking to lobby for and accelerate the adoption of driverless cars. “In the next decade, autonomous vehicles will be a threat to the industry,” Perry told the audience at the Annual Membership Meeting. “Obama rolled out rules for driverless cars, but Chao has come in and said [vehicles] would affect employment and she’s not sure about the safety of them. The OEMs, Google, and Apple are looking to lobby for autonomous vehicles.”

Among legislative issues the NLA will be focusing on this year:

• Address the labor misclassification of drivers on the federal, state, and local levels now that more problems and negative press have emerged about Uber.

• Rally industry supporters for the annual NLA Day on the Hill June 14 that targets key Congressional members to push NLA priorities, with driver labor misclassification as a major issue.

• Focus on regulatory battles and efforts, with New York, California, Florida, Texas, and Illinois, among the states with the most chauffeured transportation business, as key states for engagement. So far, 43 states have passed legislation related to TNCs.

• Counter Uber efforts through targeted public relations to complement lobbying actions.

• See how autonomous vehicles affect traffic safety, duty of care, and fleet-related employment. All safety laws that apply to cars with human drivers should apply to cars without human drivers. Further, the NLA believes before companies can test autonomous vehicles on public roadways, they should cooperate with state, local, and federal authorities, and receive operating authority to do so.

• Engage on federal bills HR 5625 & HR 5647 from the last Congress that favor TNCs for federal employees.

• Keep a dialogue with the Department of Labor and build on a March 6 meeting with the DOL’s wage and hour enforcement division. 

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