New Jersey Limo Group Swaps Out Lobbying Firms In TNC Fight

Posted on January 23, 2015 by Tom Halligan - Also by this author - About the author

PRINCETON, N.J. — Unhappy with its lobbying efforts to influence state legislators to stop the illegal activities of TNCs, the Limousine Association of New Jersey (LANJ) announced at its meeting Wednesday that it has hired a new lobbying firm.

The lobbyists have been tasked with stepping up initiatives to represent the association in its ongoing fight to counter TNCs that do not meet the same regulatory requirements as limousine and taxi operators.

Newly elected President Jeff Shanker, (A-1 Limousine, Princeton), announced that the Board of Directors decided to end its contract with its long-time lobbying firm, Management & Government Resources, headed by Barry Lefkowitz, and hired the Kaufmann Zita Group (KZG), a West Trenton lobbying and public relations firm.

Shanker said he and LANJ leadership were displeased with recent lobbying effort to sway legislators over a TNC regulatory that  “did not go our way.” He told members that the new firm was brought on to continue the fight to “level the playing field” regarding TNC operations and also to ensure public safety.

A state Assembly panel in December moved a bill forward (3765) that provides some regulatory reins on the free-wheeling TNCs, but does not go far enough to protect passengers in terms of insurance and safety requirements, according to LANL and taxi associations. The bill allows:

  • TNCs must provide coverage in the amount of at least $250,000 per incident for liability, property damage and uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, and medical payments coverage in an amount of at least $10,000 per person per incident involving a TNC vehicle.
  • Coverage must be available from the time the third party transportation provider logs on or is otherwise available for hire, until the provider logs out and is no longer available for hire or drops off the last passenger, whichever occurs last.
  • TNCs must register with the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission. To secure a permit, TNCs would be required to conduct criminal history record background checks, verify operators’ driving records, and periodically inspect vehicles.
  • TNCs that violate the law would be subject to a civil penalty of $2,000 for the first offense, per driver, and up to $5,000 for each subsequent offense, per driver.

To help fund the lobbying effort, LANJ members pledged more than $5,000 at the meeting, strongly supporting the association’s  fight to ensure TNCs are not treated differently than the private transportation industry.

In a statement e-mailed to LCT on Jan. 23, Lefkowitz wrote, "The LANJ Board has decided to change direction, and  I wish them much luck and success. I am still heavily involved representing other clients, with the legislation and I continue battling on the frontline, in order to ensure fair treatment under the Uber/TNC encroachment. Although we will not be collaborating together at this time, we will continue to play an active role in promoting aspects of the original drafted legislation by working with the Governor’s office and key legislators.

"It has been my honor, and pleasure, to have served you for the past 17 years. We have shared many victories together including: Exemption from sales tax on parts, labor, purchase, lease and rental; three changes in the limo law; our own W/C code; a more positive relationship with the Port Authority; not to mention many other small and big wins for our industry over the past decade and a half," Lefkowitz continued.

"At the federal level some of the many accomplishments we made together are: The Ride Act; SBA criteria change to allow limos money and assistance from the events of 9/11; Gas Guzzler Tax; many other regulatory adjustments that helped our members."

Name Change
In another matter, the association voted to tweak its name to Limousine Association of New Jersey, dropping the “s” in Associations to better reflect its mission. The plural is no longer relevant because in 2007 LANJ and the former South Jersey Limousine Association merged. Now it’s one big united Garden State family.

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