WASHINGTON, D.C. — Leaders of the National Limousine Association (NLA) and members of state and regional associations nationwide will make their annual lobbying trip to Capitol Hill on May 21-22. As the limo industry’s most important lobbying effort, the Day On The Hill is an opportunity for operators to represent the chauffeured transportation industry and communicate their interests to the nation’s legislators.
Tuesday will be composed of a full day of briefings and seminars on key issues confronting the industry. On Wednesday, participants will break out into teams to meet with the staff of Senators and Representatives from certain key states. The NLA is working with its lobbying firm, Cornerstone Government Affairs, to schedule Day On The Hill activities.
“The goal of Day On The Hill is to keep legislators aware of our industry, to promote professionalism, to create a cohesiveness with our association members, and educate all parties,” NLA executive director Philip Jagiela said. “We go every year with certain objectives for our industry, but it’s also a networking opportunity to be amongst those who potentially can control our destiny, be it from a regulatory standpoint or things that may be on the horizon.”
Jagiela strongly encourages constituents of the NLA target states (listed here) to make the trip to D.C. because their legislators are crucial to NLA legislative and regulatory objectives. “In any state, legislators listen to constituents. That’s really critical.”
NLA President Gary Buffo said the efforts of Day On The Hill strengthen the voice of the limousine industry in the nation’s halls of power. “We’re kind of a small industry. It’s a small business. 85% of our industry is five cars of less. When you have the school teachers union that walks in there with $8 million annually, they get things done. We’re trying to get things done on a much smaller scale, but what we’re getting done is very positive for our industry.”
There are several issues at the forefront of the NLA’s lobbying efforts for 2013. The Department of Transportation is considering whether to make electronic onboard recorders mandatory for limo vehicles, which the NLA doesn’t see a need for. The NLA is also lobbying for Congress to extend Section 179 of the Internal Revenue Code, which allows small businesses to deduct the full purchase price of qualifying equipment and encourages reinvestment.
The NLA and Cornerstone Government Affairs will hold of a fundraiser for elected officials that are seen as friends of the limo industry on the evening of May 21. The event will be a show of support for Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).
Last year’s Day on the Hill is a testament the importance of such political activities, Buffo said. Through its lobbying efforts, the NLA had a hand in influencing a federal ruling that deemed limousine operators do not have to pay overtime wages on chauffeur tips as long as those tips are discretionary.
“We had a very successful Day on the Hill last year which saved our industry hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars in the future. That was a big fight last year and it really worked out well for us. That’s a perfect example: ‘Does day on the hill work? Absolutely it works.’”
Buffo also thinks that the tragic limousine fire in San Francisco will bring additional focus to the industry. “I think this will be the most powerful and successful year of Day On The Hill because we are going to have not only the ears, we’re also going to have the attention of every single person that we meet with. And it’s our time to relay the message of safety in our industry.”
Those interested in participating in Day On The Hill should contact NLA association programs manager Darcie Benard by May 17 at (800) 652-7007, ext. 17 or [email protected]
— Denis Wilson, LCT East Coast Editor