WASHINGTON, D.C. — Leaders of the National Limousine Association and state associations nationwide made their annual all-day lobbying trek to Capitol Hill on Wednesday following a day full of briefings and seminars on key issues confronting the industry.
The gathering, called “Day OnThe Hill,” is the national limousine industry’s premium lobbying and political event that carries the most clout and represents the widest field of operators and their interests. The event takes on added importance with 2012 being a pivotal Presidential election year that could influence the long-term health of American businesses going forward. Key NLA leaders and officers already have lined up behind the candidacy of Republican Mitt Romney for whom they have raised more than $75,000 at a March campaign fund-raiser in Boston.
Altogether, about 60 limousine operators from around the nation were in town this week for 150 meetings at Congressional offices on Capitol Hill. These visits followed a series of briefings Tuesday at the Capital Hilton covering a range of topics such as federal policies on overtime and imposed gratuities, updates on relevant legal cases affecting the industry, the latest developments at the National Republican Congressional Committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and a briefing from officials of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on various regulatory programs and initiatives.
NLA lobbyists Louie Perry and Greg McDonald of Cornerstone Government Affairs in Washington, D.C., coordinated and scheduled Day On The Hill activities. Perry told LCT on Monday that the general theme of this year’s event focuses on an overzealous Department of Labor that is auditing operators and trying to force ground transportation operators to pay overtime on chauffeur tip income.
“We have communicated to DOL that ground transportation operators currently pay an hourly wage and then they pay overtime on all hours worked over 40, just like the Fair Labor Standards Act requires,” Perry told LCT. “But since President Obama was elected, DOL has gotten a lot of new ideas about ways to mess with small businesses and one is the bright idea to try and require operators to pay overtime on driver tip income as well. We have been fighting this, along with DOL enforcement of worker classification and DOL’s crusade against independent contractors.”
On Tuesday night, attendees were invited to a fund-raiser at Cornerstone Government Affairs Office for Sen. Michael Enzi, R-Wyoming, the Chairman of the House Health Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. Committee representatives also briefed attendees earlier in the day on committee activities and labor-related legislative efforts.
The fund-raiser was hosted by Cornerstone, NLA, and the Global Business Travel Association. Enzi supports the chauffeured transportation industry in its struggle with the DOL on overtime on tips. The NLA hopes to raise about $25,000 for his reelection campaign. “We very much appreciate Sen. Enzi’s hard work on our behalf and want to impress him with how much we appreciate his important support of our industry,” wrote NLA board director and NLA Political Action Committee Co-Chair Dawson Rutter in a letter to NLA members before the Hill event. “We really need to start to ramp up our political donations for critical races and strong supporters of our industry to maximize our friendships and elect as many pro-business candidates as possible.”
Sources: Cornerstone Government Affairs; NLA; Martin Romjue, LCT editor