Regional Digest: State associations advocate on the home front
04/08/2013

In recent years, state legislative days have become a larger part of state legislative programs. These events, held at the state capitols, are relationship-building opportunities that allow members to be the voice of the equipment rental industry, putting rental issues at the forefront of state legislators’ minds. In March alone, five state associations took members to their state capitols to address the issues that impact businesses.

The size and experience of a state association often determines its approach to legislative days. Some may choose to participate with another organization such as the state Chamber of Commerce or National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) to lobby for small business issues. Others organize their own event and go to the state capitol to discuss rental-specific issues as well as legislation that affects the broader business community.

Members of the Texas Rental Association have been taking their legislative agenda to Austin for several years. This year they visited on March 5-6 to talk about the margin tax. “I was there to support the industry, being another voice to share my concerns to my legislators,” says J’Max Quenon, vice president of MIS Group in Houston and TRA associate director. “I was able to talk with people who are involved in the issues we discussed. They grasped what I was saying. I would encourage every rental store to call its state senator and representative or visit them at their district offices when they are not in session.”

Fred Dupy, president of American Party Rental in Austin and TRA Area 5 director, also was in Austin for the event. “I feel like we really made a difference regarding the margins tax issue,” he says. “The more people we have involved, the better.”

This was the second year that members of the ARA of Illinois visited Springfield. This March, the state association nearly doubled its numbers from last year when they went to the capitol to talk about minimum wage and workers’ compensation rates.

“At first I was nervous about how things were going to go, but now that I’ve been here and had the support of people who’ve done this before, I feel like I can help someone else get started,” says Melanie Troyer, co-owner of Wirtz Rentals in Chicago. “I’m really glad I came and got involved in this process. It has inspired me to follow up with each of them at their district offices and to develop a working relationship with them.”

Karen Laccone, manager at RentalMax Administration Center in Wheaton, Ill., also plans to visit legislators in the company’s district offices when they’re not in session. “I left a lot of information at their offices in Springfield, but when they’re back home there are fewer distractions and they have more time to devote to listening to their constituents,”
she says.

In addition to Texas and Illinois, Alabama, Colorado, Arizona, Florida, Washington and Massachusetts have had legislative days in 2013 and several other states are planning to visit their capitols on behalf of the equipment rental industry later in the year.

For more information or help organizing a legislative day for your state association, contact Alysia Ryan at 800-334-2177, ext. 271, or email alysia.ryan@ararental.org.

State, local and provincial associations are driven by ARA members who give their time and expertise to provide programs and services that can benefit members close to home, including education and training, government advocacy, industry trends and networking opportunities. Participation at the local level can help you stay up-to-date on industry issues through personal connections, as well as exposure to products and information regarding solutions to common rental industry issues that affect all businesses.

For further information or to get involved, contact a member of your state board. Contact information, as well as a current calendar of state and local events, can be found at ARArental.org under “State/Local/Provincial Associations.”