One of the major benefits of belonging to the American Rental Association (ARA) is our very active government affairs program. This past July, we saw another example of the growing influence and reach of our program. Greg Nelson, ARA of Idaho president and general manager of Brown Rental in Boise, Idaho, participated in the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship roundtable in Washington, D.C.
Nelson was contacted by the staff of Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, following his April visit with the senator about Section 179 during the ARA’s National Legislative Caucus. I am proud of Nelson’s participation, which shows that even with an active government affairs program in place, member involvement is still needed and is crucial to its success.
Government regulations and legislation at all levels of government impact each of us. The associated taxes, fees and cost of regulatory compliance are skyrocketing. The challenge has never been greater to be aware of what regulations are coming and how to be in compliance.
How can you make a difference? You can start by making sure our elected leaders hear from ARA members and that the rental industry is represented and relevant on Capitol Hill and at home. Our elected leaders need to understand the uniqueness of our industry, the impact we can have on the economy and the importance of passing legislation to ensure the viability of the equipment rental industry.
The ARA’s government affairs program is essential to providing that “voice” in Washington, D.C. The program continues to provide opportunities for members to be heard as well as providing the tools and resources for effective representation for our members and the rental industry. Through our government affairs program, we continue to have a tremendous impact on federal legislation and regulations that affect each of your businesses every day.
As the opportunity that Nelson had shows, the strength of the ARA’s government affairs program depends on member involvement — both at the federal and local levels. With members located in every congressional district in the U.S., we have the opportunity to make a difference and influence legislation.
You can help in a number of ways, including contacting your local representatives with economic information about the rental industry and your business; participating in your state association’s legislative committee; organizing a state association legislative day; volunteering to attend the ARA’s National Legislative Caucus in Washington, D.C.; and building relationships with your local officials and representatives.
I also encourage you to consider joining ARAPAC, ARA’s Political Action Committee. ARAPAC strengthens our voice in Washington, D.C., and plays a vital role in ARA’s government affairs program. ARAPAC is free to join and offers several ways to support those running for federal office that support our industry and our members on the issues that impact our industry.
Don’t sell yourself short on the influence you can have. Three years ago, ARA of Washington held its first state legislative day. The first state senator we met with was thrilled to see us. She commented that we were the first group of small business owners to meet with her that year. Next, we met with a state representative who told us big business and big labor are at the Capitol every day campaigning for their industries while small business is not. He told us, “Your opposition is down here. If you are silent, then you are in agreement.”
As an industry, we cannot be silent. We need to be heard. Together we can make a difference.
Mike Blaisdell, vice president, Bunce Rental, Tacoma, Wash., is the 2013 president of the American Rental Association. He can be reached at 253-472-3347 or firstname.lastname@example.org.