Associations Ramp-Up Lobbying Initiatives

Tom Halligan
Posted on April 7, 2014

It seems like more associations are hiring professional lobbyists to fight for their interests at the local and state levels to ensure their concerns are being heard by policymakers and legislators who make rules that directly affect the ground transportation industry. In some cases, Uber and other disruptive personal transportation apps that have emerged are reasons to have a better seat at the political table. In other cases, lobbyists are charged with representing the industry on a variety of issues and concerns, and also to stay visible to politicians to make sure operators have a voice when an issue arises that may have a negative impact on operators in the local, state and national arenas.

Take for example, Florida. Last month the statewide Florida Limousine Association (FLA) spearheaded an effort to hire a lobbyist to fight a proposed State Senate bill that would place the regulation of limousine companies under state domain, and also allow Uber to operate on a statewide basis, thereby trumping local jurisdictions having sway over Uber and other personal transportation app companies.

FLA President Rick Versace (A1A Airport & Limousine Service), said that the FLA joined forces with the South Florida Limousine Association (SFLA), the West Florida Livery Association (WFLA), and the Greater Orlando Limousine Association (GOLA) to hire noted Florida “mega lobbyist” Ron Book to represent their concerns and issues in Tallahassee, the state capital.

Also last month, the Minnesota Chauffeured Transportation Association (MCTA) hired the law firm of Lockridge Grindal Nauen to represent the MCTA’s interest at the state level concerning the association’s legislative agenda containing specific bills and proposals that directly impact operators.

For example, the firm will tackle the state’s chauffeured transportation and limousine laws — unchanged for 25 years — in an effort to modernize regulations to conform with today’s industry needs. Also on the agenda is an initiative to protect the riding public by making sure regulations are in place to make sure all drivers have an accepted minimum amount of liability insurance required by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

“Our number one goal is to be proactive and improve the 25-year-old regulations that need new standards that meet the needs of the industry today,” said Leslie Rosedahl, the law firm’s director of communications and grassroots advocacy. “It’s hard for an operator to both run their business and also to take on lobbying, so we take over that task and work with the association on their legislative issues.”

Washington, D.C.
In the nation’s capital — ground zero for national lobbying efforts — the National Limousine Association’s (NLA) hired lobbying firm, Cornerstone Government Affairs, is at the forefront of representing the industry on the national stage. Louie Perry, a founder of the public affairs, government relations and lobbying firm, said Cornerstone and the NLA have a number of pressing legislative and regulatory issues they are currently addressing.

Perry mentioned top-of-mind issues such as a new test to classify workers as employees or independent contractors, fighting to renew the “bonus depreciation” law that allowed operators to deduct 50% off of new equipment, staying on top of the ever-changing Affordable Care Act, and tackling issues involving airport service as being classified as interstate travel, which will affect airport fees and levies.

Regarding the employee independent contractor issue, Perry explained that under the current law, “the determination of whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor is generally made using a 20-factor common law test to determine whether the worker is subject to the control of the service recipient.” In short, under the new test to classify independent contractors, there would be a “safe harbor test” that workers would have to qualify in order not to be considered an employee.

It is a complicated issue that is still unfolding, Perry said. “This will turn the classification of independent contractors upside down, adding complexity.”

As this and other legislative regulatory issues and bills unfold in both Washington and in states and municipalities throughout the country, we’ll keep you updated on lobbying activities as they fight the good fight for the collective benefit of the industry.

Tom Halligan is LCT East Coast editor, based in Marlton, N.J. He travels regularly to industry association meetings in the eastern U.S. Tom can be reached at [email protected]

Related Topics: Cornerstone Government Affairs, Florida Limousine Association, Florida operators, industry politics, industry regulations, limo associations, lobbying, Louie Perry, Minnesota operators, National Limousine Association, Rick Versace, West Florida Livery Association

Comments ( 1 )
  • Mike Gay

     | about 6 years ago

    Very informative and Helpful

More Stories