The American Rental Association’s (ARA) 2014 Government Affairs Committee met in Chicago on Oct. 21-22, 2013, to chart the course
of ARA-supported policies in the second session of the 113th Congress. As the committee looks ahead, the focus is on strengthening efforts at the state level as well as continuing to build on the success of ARA’s annual National Legislative Caucus.
Representing a diverse geographic area and all segments of the equipment rental industry, the 2014 committee includes Frank Bocci, C & E Rentals, Eugene, Ore., chairman; Art Behnke, AirPac Rents, Front Royal, Va.; Dave Gill, Rentals Unlimited, Traverse City, Mich.; Jim Holt, Adams Rental, Littleton, Colo.; Ray Lello III, Midwest Construction Rentals, Bloomington, Ill.; and Bob Nally, Apache Equipment Corp., Phoenix. Also present were ARA President-Elect Paul Phelon, Timp Rental Center, Orem, Utah, and ARA government affairs staff members.
“We have a great committee comprised of experienced rental operators who understand how government policy affects us and how ARA’s government affairs program can help us address the regulations and taxes coming down the road in the next year,” Phelon says.
The discussion throughout the meeting covered a range of topics as the committee talked about the agenda ARA will pursue on Capitol Hill. The dialogue included heath care, tax policy and the political climate in Washington, D.C., as much uncertainty remains surrounding the debt ceiling and the budget.
“The Government Affairs Committee is the first committee to meet each year, which allows committee members to go back to ARA members with information about the issues we’re facing and encourage them to consider working with us at caucus or at the state level,” Bocci says. “We got a good sense of direction during the meeting, although we’ll have to keep watching some of these issues to see where they go as major deadlines approach.”
As legislators aim to resolve several issues over the course of the year, leading up to the mid-term elections in November, the committee will focus on how decisions made on Capitol Hill may impact the equipment rental industry. The most significant opportunity for members to present a unified voice on the issues that are of particular concern is during the 2014 National Legislative Caucus in Washington, D.C., scheduled for April 1-3.
During the committee meeting, plans were made for a full agenda during this event, including guest speakers and sessions to help guide participants through the process of talking with elected officials and telling the story of the equipment rental industry. In addition to determining the issues and planning the agenda, the Government Affairs Committee also will host the event.
“The committee looks at what’s affecting the membership and finds two to three top issues that we can take to Washington, D.C., and have a unified voice about those things that are making it more difficult to run our businesses,” Phelon says. “Planning ahead for this event is important, so that members know what they’re going there for and to be ready to present our message in a way that will be heard and remembered.”
“The Government Affairs Committee is charged with planning and hosting caucus each year and making sure that ARA’s legislative agenda is delivered with a unified voice directly to our elected officials in Washington, D.C.,” says Christine Wehrman, ARA’s executive vice president and CEO. “This is one of ARA’s most important leadership programs and our participation on Capitol Hill is of benefit to everyone in the equipment rental industry.”
“This was a constructive meeting,” Phelon says. “We know there are challenges out there, but we have members with experience and
knowledge to help lead and direct the government affairs program and our voice on Capitol Hill."