Day on the Hill participants visit Capitol Hill for NLA lobbying event.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Leaders of the National Limousine Association (NLA) and members of state and regional associations nationwide made a lobbying push in the nation’s capitol on May 22. The annual Day on the Hill event was an opportunity for operators to represent the chauffeured transportation industry and communicate their interests to the nation’s legislators. Nearly 50 operators participated in the walk on the hill.
NLA leadership saw the events of Day on the Hill as an opportunity for the association to continue to grow its influence in Washington. “Now we are starting to have a strong voice on Capitol Hill. With the issue of overtime on tips, we got a lot of help from legislators,” said Dawson Rutter, NLA board member and owner of Commonwealth Worldwide Chauffeured Transportation.
On the day before operators met with the staff of Senators and Representatives from certain key states, the NLA’s lobbying firm, Cornerstone Government Affairs, held briefings to get participants up to speed on the key legislative issues. These topics are expected to have significant effect on operators in 2013 and beyond.
The NLA is encouraging Congress to extend Section 179 of the Internal Revenue Code, which allows small businesses to deduct the full purchase price of qualifying equipment during the tax year. A ground transportation operator who purchases a van, shuttle, sedan, bus, motorcoach, or other chauffeured vehicle may deduct the full purchase price from his gross income. The incentive is intended to encourage small businesses to buy equipment and invest in themselves.
The NLA feels that Section 179 has helped boost the manufacture of chauffeured vehicles dramatically. “In 2012, while Section 179 was in effect, the pro¬duction of chauffeured vehicles nearly tripled over the previous year, proving that the bonus deprecia¬tion had significant positive effects,” said the NLA in a position paper on the issue. “ Section 179 not only benefits small businesses but helps boost the struggling auto industry as most operators have se¬dans, SUVs, shuttles, and buses in addition to other chauffeured vehicles.”
The stimulus relief effort has been extended three times and will end on December 31st of this year if it is not extended again.
In 2012, Congress approved and the President signed into law the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (“MAP-21”). Among other things, the act requires DOT to issue regulations requiring commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) to install electronic on-board recorders
(EOBRs) that would keep track of a driver’s hours of service. CMVs include vehicles designed or used to transport more than eight passengers, including the driver. The NLA maintains that the EOBR mandate was intended for trucks and large motorcoaches, but it will impact smaller vans and shuttles that NLA members operate.
“The NLA seeks a legislative solution to relieve small businesses of this significant burden,” said the NLA in a position paper on the issue. “We will also express our opposition in the public rulemaking process once DOT publishes the rule for comment.”
NLA attorney, Mike Marrone, spoke on the issue at the policy briefing: “It’s clear that the rule was for concern over tractor trailers and motorcoahes, where drivers would log very long hours. They were afraid that drivers or employers would fudge the log, to make delivers and get home.”
Laura Bozell of Cornerstone Government Affairs, briefed participants on the employer mandate of the Affordable Care Act, widely known as Obamacare, which requires large employers supply health insurance for full-time employees or else face financial penalties.
One of the lingering questions about Obamacare was how “large employer” would be defined. Bozell cleared that up and said that a large employer is one with 50 or more full-time employees. Part time employees will be counted by converting part-time employees that work an average of more than 30 hours a week or 130 hours a month to full-time employees. As long as 95% of full-time employees are offered healthcare, they will be considered in compliant.
— Denis Wilson, LCT East Coast Editor