TRENTON, N.J. — A bill that would repeal New Jersey’s onerous sales tax on limousine service was sent back to square one just before it was supposed to get a vote on the Assembly floor in the New Jersey Legislature this week.
A3755 was scheduled to be heard by the Assembly Budget Committee and put up for a vote on the “lame duck” Assembly floor by Monday, Jan. 9. A Senate version, S680, passed in 2011 on a 37-0 vote after successful lobbying from the Limousine Associations of New Jersey.
But legislators decided since the bill would have been vetoed anyway by Gov. Chris Christie, and a new Legislature was sworn in this week, it would be better to revise the bill and start the whole process again, said Barry Lefkowitz, the executive director of LANJ, and an industry lobbyist who has been the foremost advocate of the repeal.
A new version of the repeal would include a “forward date” of July 2013 for the tax elimination to take effect so it would not immediately interfere with the state’s revenue stream amid budget pressures this year.
“It would not kick in until July 2013 so there is not an immediate impact for the budget, and Republican legislators think it may fly that way,” Lefkowitz told LCT. Democrats are the majority party in both Houses of the New Jersey Legislature.
A new bill already has been pre-filed in both Houses with bi-partisan sponsors, Lefkowitz said. He and LANJ officers will be meeting with new committee chairs and legislators in coming weeks to keep the repeal effort moving along and eventually bring the updated bill back to both legislative floors.
Electronic gadgets behind the wheel
In a separate regulatory matter affecting the chauffeured transportation industry, Lefkowitz, also a lobbyist for the International Association of Transportation Regulators, is awaiting a legal analysis of some stricter rules on use of electronic devices recommended last month by the National Transportation Safety Board. The big question is how the NTSB proposed rules, which ban use of hands-free Bluetooth devices in all commercial vehicles, would affect push button dispatch devices now used by all limousine/livery vehicles regulated by New York Taxi and Limousine Commission.
The devices resulted from a compromise between LANJ and other industry associations and the NYTLC to find a way that chauffeurs can communicate while avoiding the perils of distracted driving and electronics.
NYTLC-licensed vehicles comprise a major chunk of the chauffeured transportation industry on the East Coast, as any operator in New Jersey, New York or Connecticut who wants to transport clients in and out of New York City must have all chauffeured vehicles licensed by the NYTLC.
Lefkowitz and IATR President Matt Daus, also a transportation industry attorney, will visit Capitol Hill Jan. 23-24 to meet with key Congressional representatives about the NTSB rules. They also will be representing the Coalition of Transportation Associations, a newly formed association that consists of five New York/New Jersey area industry groups including LANJ.
One scheduled visit to discuss the proposed NTSB rules is with Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
“We will determine first whether these rules will have any legs, and secondly, make it clear that we want to see that what we had worked out successfully with NYTLC remains the way it should be,” Lefkowitz said.
— Martin Romjue, LCT editor