NLA Prepares For Annual Day On The Hill

Posted on June 3, 2009 by LCT Staff - Also by this author - About the author

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Limousine Association (NLA) will head to Capitol Hill on Tuesday for its annual Day On The Hill lobbying and educational event.

The day marks the ninth time the NLA has trekked to the halls of Congress to make representatives aware of measures that would ease rules and taxes for the 8,000 plus chauffeured transportation operators nationwide.

This year, the NLA’s lobbying firm, Cornerstone Government Affairs, will lead participants on a packed day of meetings with key members of Congress to gain support for an amendment to the 2002 RIDE Act, which allows out-of-state operators to drop off and pick up clients at airports across state lines.

More than 60 attendees, including the NLA board of directors, are scheduled to participate. Before the Day on the Hill, the NLA will hold one of its four annual face-to-face board meetings; the day following the Hill event association presidents from across the country will meet to share ideas, strategies, and initiatives.

“Success will be measured by how effective the NLA is in our meetings with Congressional members to win them over as champions, supporters, and partners with the pre-arranged chauffeured transportation industry,” said Patricia Nelson, executive director of the NLA.

In previous years, large groups of operators traveled together to meetings. This year, the NLA is using smaller groups of four to five people targeting key members of committees which have the power to move this amendment. Each group will be accompanied by a member of Cornerstone’s organization. The NLA is targeting the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, and the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. Some appointments also are being scheduled with other key legislators such as the members of the House Ways and Means Committee.

The RIDE Act

Congress passed the Real Interstate Driver’s Equity Act (H.R. 2546) in 2002. The bill, which was passed to deal with abusive airport fees, actually did not address the problem clearly enough. The law prohibits states from requiring a fee for pre-arranged ground transportation, yet there are many documented abuses of this law.

“The NLA has proposed new legislation designed to address the airport fees issue,” Nelson said. “Our proposed legislative fix will do at least two important things: First, prevent transportation terminals, which is a defined term in our legislation, from levying fees on limousine companies other than the fees they levy on the general public for use of the terminal. The exception is that transportation terminals can charge reasonable fees which are defined by DOT rulemaking in exchange for providing ancillary services like parking spots, VIP waiting areas, etc. that the DOT determines are useful and necessary for the business of providing prearranged ground transportation; and second, require DOT to conduct rulemaking to prescribe when and how transportation terminals can levy fees on limousine companies when the aforementioned services are provided.” Operators will urge members of Congress to support these changes.

Other initiatives

Although the RIDE Act amendment is the foremost concern of the NLA, attendees also will discuss the effects that the negative criticism of business travel and corporate retreats has on the chauffeured transportation industry as well as the travel and tourism industries.

Overall, the NLA Day On The Hill has made Congress aware of the efforts of the chauffeured transportation industry. As a unified industry, the NLA is able to attack issues that affect the industry as a whole. The NLA has garnered key political allies to help in its efforts. The RIDE Act amendment, for example, will stop airports from charging looping fees and AVI fees unless they give something in return to operators such as exclusive lanes or parking lots.

Airports nationwide are looking to expand revenue streams and AVI systems are being added to the permits and stickers attached to operators’ windshields. Although it will be impossible to stop these fees altogether, operators must understand they should not have to pay any more than the public does to do the same thing and get the same in return. The NLA is fighting to make a level playing ground for all operators.

Source: Linda Moore, LCT Magazine

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