Use this time to meet with elected officials
August finds members of Congress returning to their respective home states to meet with constituents in their districts. This offers those in the equipment rental industry the opportunity to make appointments with elected officials.
“Visit with them about your business, your industry and your concerns as a voting, tax-paying constituent in their district,” says John McClelland, vice president for government affairs, American Rental Association (ARA), Washington, D.C.
“These meetings are an opportunity to reinforce the messages conveyed by ARA members in Washington, D.C., on behalf of the equipment rental industry at ARA’s National Legislative Caucus held in April,” he says.
Congress recently dealt with several issues that impact the equipment rental industry before leaving town — immigration reform, postponing the employer mandate provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Health Insurance Tax (HIT) and tax reform,
“ARA has been keeping a close watch on these issues and continues to work for outcomes that will benefit those who do business in the equipment rental industry. The voices of ARA members, in conjunction with those of hundreds of other business organizations, are being heard. More importantly, that effort is producing results and making a difference,” McClelland says.
Local and state rules, regulations and statutes often have even more impact on business decisions and operations than national laws. Several ARA state associations have been involved in advocating at the state level. Given that the 50 state legislatures also have wrapped up their year of activity for the most part — special sessions notwithstanding — here is a recap of what has happened in selected states this year.
- Alabama. The ARA of Alabama conducted its first legislative day this year, meeting representatives and sharing with them concerns about Alabama’s rental tax laws as well as theft of rental services.
- California. ARA continues to monitor California Air Resource Board (CARB) regulations and the impact they are having on the rental industry, specifically fines being assessed against equipment rental companies for non-compliance. This helps ARA determine where more education may be necessary as well as promote the CARB training sessions that continue to be offered.
- Illinois. The ARA of Illinois held its second annual state legislative day in March at the state’s capitol in Springfield. Participation in the event continues to grow as more members establish year-round communications and relationships with their representatives. Concerns about a proposed increase to the minimum wage, as well as workers’ compensation rates, continue to top the points of discussion with legislators. The group also focused on the larger issues that affect all Illinois businesses, namely state employee pension reform.
- Iowa. ARA members in Iowa became aware of an inconsistently applied use and sales tax on rental trailers being assessed by the state department of revenue (DOR). While some equipment rental companies were expected to collect sales tax on the rental, others paid a one-time fee when registering the trailer. A determination by the state DOR is expected soon, hopefully producing a decision wherein all businesses renting trailers know what to expect and what their tax liability will be for a certain year on that equipment.
- Louisiana. Equipment rental stores in Louisiana now have greater leverage when it comes to filing mechanics’ lien claims. Gov. Bobby Jindal signed Act No. 357 into law, which amends the state’s law on mechanics’ liens. As of Aug. 1, equipment rental companies no longer will be required to deliver a copy of the lease to the property owner and contractor, but only to send notice to those parties, which does not require disclosure of the rental rate. With this action, the Louisiana legislature addressed these regulations, seen by many as an unnecessary and unwarranted intrusion into a business transaction.
- Massachusetts. For many years, the ARA of Massachusetts has been involved in working with state regulators to retain the ability to rent lift equipment to consumers. A great deal of education, communication and negotiation has gone into this effort, in order to allow equipment rental companies to continue offering this equipment. A long-term result of this relationship has been a trust and reliance on the part of the regulators for the information the association provides. This has proved crucial in ongoing negotiations over new regulations and training programs being developed for equipment usage.
- Missouri. ARA and its members in Missouri were successful in lobbying and having the state’s mechanics’ lien law amended, lengthening the time in which rental businesses had to file a pre-lien notice from five to 15 days. The new law also removed the requirement to disclose the rental rate on the pre-lien notice. ARA members in Missouri were asked to contact the governor, encouraging his signature on the legislation.
- New York. The ARA of New York was not able to get S.B. 4905/A 7184 passed into law this session, which would have made it a crime to purposefully withhold payment for an equipment rental or to retain possession of equipment at the end of the rental. The ARA of New York did make a large amount of progress, as they were responsible for reviving the bill from the Codes Committee, where it had died, and getting it moved to the state senate for consideration, with the help of a lobbyist. The bill was dropped when the legislature adjourned June 20, but the board currently is considering a proposal from a lobbying firm for continued work on this in the new session, as well as some interim media activity to create interest in its passage.
- Ohio. Board members participated with state National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Day at the state capitol in June, meeting with representatives on municipal tax reform and the state budget and tax reform.
- Texas. ARA and the Texas Rental Association (TRA) recently celebrated a victory on the margin tax. Gov. Rick Perry signed H.B. 500/S.B. 161 into law on June 14, which leveled the playing field between retailers and rental equipment businesses. Retailers renting equipment under the retail Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) were only charged one-half percent of their rental revenues, while those in rental were being charged one percent for renting exactly the same equipment. With this law now in effect, both types of businesses will be paying one-half percent of revenue in margin taxes, saving equipment rental businesses thousands of dollars each year.
“Equipment rental business owners and their employees have a lot at stake at both the state and national level. Take the opportunity this month to talk with your state and national legislators at home and help keep the concerns of the equipment rental industry top of mind when they return to the state capitol or Washington, D.C.,” McClelland says.
Find health care law information in one place
To help our readers better understand the Affordable Care Act (ACA), we have made it easier to find articles and other resources related to health care on our website, RentalManagementMag.com.
CLICK HERE to go to a special page with links to Rental Management and Rental Pulse articles on the subject. We will continue to add links to Rental Management and Rental Pulse articles as well as other online resources as they become available.