In late April, the American Rental Association (ARA) hosted its 2009 Legislative Caucus in Washington, D.C. This annual event is held for ARA leaders from our state associations, along with the ARA board of directors, for the purpose of putting “feet on the ground” in our nation’s Capitol. This year, nearly 90 members from more than 30 states were in attendance to share their point of view on key issues with U.S. representatives and senators.
The outcome of the federal elections in November 2008 meant attendees experienced many new faces this year. Not only are there changes in the White House and an increased Democratic Party majority in Congress, but the pace has increased markedly in the number of legislative or regulatory proposals being considered. As policy positions start to be framed, the voice of business needs to be front and center in Washington, D.C.
The ARA Government Affairs Committee had defined three key industry issues for members to communicate to their representatives and senators during their personal visits on Capitol Hill. The first of these impacts every rental or supplier business in the country — the Employee Free Choice Act also known as “card check.” ARA strongly opposes this proposed legislation that amends current labor laws. The issue pertains to any size business regardless of your revenue volume or number of employees.
Health care reform was a second major issue to be discussed with legislators, as health care remains the No. 1 employee benefit priority among ARA members. Escalating costs, along with numerous proposals currently being discussed in Washington, D.C., pose an uncertain future for our country’s health care system. The third and final issue debated with legislators was federal estate taxes, a key financial concern of family owned businesses. Congress is expected to act yet this year to determine exemption and tax levels.
The ARA positions on all three issues were developed by the Government Affairs Committee and are stated on page 58 of this issue of RENTAL MANAGEMENT. Take the time to understand these issues and your association’s positions. Better yet, take the time to tell your U.S. representative or senators your opinion on these issues.
As any of the nearly 90 ARA members who participated in the 2009 Legislative Caucus in Washington, D.C., can tell you, there is no reason to not do so. Don’t let intimidation, fear, lack of time, apathy or any such reason prevent you from caring enough to share your opinion with those who represent you in Washington, D.C., or your state capital. You elect them and they work on behalf of their voters.
Persist — don’t think it doesn’t matter to state your views to legislators, as the voice of voters is always heard in the final election results. This is an invaluable step to every rental business because policy decisions that are made directly impact the potential for profitability.
Our watchword must be “persistence” when it comes to representing our industry in public policy matters. Owners and employees of rental and supplier businesses who care enough to persist with their voice and their vote are to be applauded.