American Rental Association (ARA) members embarked on the nation’s capital in Washington, D.C., in mid-April for the annual ARA Legislative Caucus to represent the voice of the industry on key issues. Busy days of activity transpired as the attendees made personal visits to Capitol Hill offices of their elected representatives and senators. Caucus attendees reflected the diversity of the ARA membership, with 80 individuals representing 34 ARA state associations from throughout the country. Those present reflected a cross-section of equipment rental inventory, various levels of rental revenue volume and number of locations as well as number of employees. This was an excellent group to interface with the U.S. Congress to represent the message of the equipment rental industry.
Members had a lot to talk about. High priority issues of tax reform focusing on the Section 179 provision and repeal of the Health Insurance Tax (HIT) were key messages in one-on-one conversations with elected leaders and staff members. Attendees came armed to discuss personal business implications on both issues. It goes without saying that ARA members continue to be sensitive to the ongoing tax code dialogue in Washington, D.C., and are students, with the rest of America, on how implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) will impact them and their employees. Both issues are further explained in this issue of Rental Management. (See page 59.)
ARA supports comprehensive tax reform and will continue to work with members of Congress on provisions that will help equipment rental businesses lower their taxes and strengthen their businesses. The message from caucus attendees was to make the Section 179 proposal of House Ways and Means Committee Chairman David Camp (R-Mich.) permanent.
While Section 179 is familiar to ARA members, the onset of the HIT is not. Representing one of the largest tax increases included in the PPACA, this tax begins in 2014 and does not sunset. The tax will be levied on health insurance companies, which operate in the fully insured marketplace and, thus, will likely be directly passed on to the small business community, a primary purchaser of insurance in this market. Available data indicates as much as $5,000 in premium payments will be added for a family over the next decade due to this tax. The message from caucus attendees was to repeal the HIT.
ARA members heard from elected representatives on these issues and had the opportunity through caucus participation to learn more about the legislative process in moving bills through the U.S. Congress. This interface with elected officials, staff members and coalition partners of ARA provided background information that became part of the conversation of ARA members in Capitol Hill offices. Each ARA member was encouraged to continue dialogue with their respective representatives and senators throughout the year as they left the nation’s capital.
The importance of ARA member involvement in the political process is profound. The industry projects $33 billion in U.S. rental revenue in 2013. Much in the business is impacted by public policy decisions at the federal, state or local level. It is the collective responsibility of those in the industry to ensure that policy makers know the importance of the equipment rental industry in consideration of their decisions. The choice is to be a part of the policy making process or accept the consequences.
Attendees at the ARA Legislative Caucus made the choice to step forward and be a part of the process on your behalf. I encourage each of you to engage in public policy dialogue with ARA by becoming involved in your ARA state association or by contacting ARA.
Your most proactive involvement is to join ARA’s Political Action Committee (ARAPAC). ARAPAC is a vital part of the ARA government affairs program, providing the ability to carry our key industry issues forward to elected officials that serve on authorizing committees in Congress. As a part of the caucus, ARAPAC hosted a reception featuring Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.), who sponsored the House bill to repeal the HIT. Contact ARA for information on joining ARAPAC.
ARA members went to Washington, D.C., to make a difference in the businesses and lives of equipment rental members and the industry. We know that it takes personal involvement and communication with lawmakers to represent your voice. Thanks to all who join with ARA for a strong and unified voice that makes a difference to this industry.
Christine Wehrman is executive vice president and CEO of the American Rental Association, 1900 19th St., Moline, IL 61265. She can be reached at 800-334-2177 or 309-764-2475, ext. 280; fax 309-764-1533; or firstname.lastname@example.org.