The American Rental Association (ARA) government affairs program is the voice of the equipment rental industry in Washington, D.C., on all issues affecting the industry and ARA member companies. It also assists state associations that want to advocate directly on regulations and laws at the local and state level. In an effort to optimize member engagement in government affairs, the ARA board of directors has chosen to make the program a top priority moving forward.
“I truly believe in the value of advocating for our industry and the power of providing a unified voice on legislation and regulatory actions, which might affect our businesses and the equipment rental industry,” says Mike Blaisdell, vice president of Bunce Rental, Tacoma, Wash., and ARA president. “We are fortunate to have a longstanding and established government affairs program with a presence in Washington, D.C., and a focus on both federal and state legislative and regulatory issues.”
The following are the highlights of ARA’s government affairs activity in 2013:
- The Section 179 expensing provision is extended for both 2012 retroactively and 2013, helping those in the equipment rental industry to plan for purchasing in 2013.
- ARA offers a seminar at The Rental Show entitled Healthcare 101 For Your Rental Business: What You Need to Know to Implement the Law of the Land to help show attendees understand how various aspects of the law will affect their businesses, when implementation will take place and what ARA is doing to address the provisions that could negatively impact the way those in the equipment rental industry run their businesses.
- ARA’s Political Action Committee (ARAPAC) hosts a fundraiser at the Mob Museum in Las Vegas during The Rental Show to inform members about ARA’s government affairs program and the importance of ARAPAC.
- ARA supports introduction of H.R. 763 sponsored by Reps. Charles Boustany (R-La.) and Jim Matheson (D-Utah) that would eliminate the health insurance tax (HIT) on all fully insured health plans that are purchased by most ARA members.
- The Rental Show seminar, Healthcare 101 For Your Rental Business: What You Need to Know to Implement the Law of the Land, is made available online.
- ARA supports introduction of S. 603, sponsored by Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). S. 603 as a companion bill to H.R. 763.
- The ARA Government Affairs Committee hosts its National Legislative Caucus in Washington, D.C., focusing on the repeal of the Health Insurance Tax (HIT) and extension of the Section 179 expensing provision. Nearly 80 ARA member leaders from 37 states attend to represent ARA’s membership.
- ARA expresses its support of the Keystone XL project in a letter to Genevieve Walker, National Environmental Policy Act coordinator.
- ARA begins working with tax counsel in Washington, D.C., to determine if the 3.8 percent net investment income tax (NII) contained in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will impact equipment rental store owners.
- ARA supports legislation that would eliminate the need for presidential approval of the completion of the Keystone XL pipeline via a letter to Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) encouraging them to work for enactment of the Northern Route Approval Act, H.R. 3.
- Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas) signs legislation that reduces the franchise tax rate from one percent to one-half of one percent on rental revenues. This was the culmination of a six-year effort to have rental businesses treated the same as retailers and is likely to save Texas rental businesses millions of dollars in taxes in coming years. At the same time, ARA also was able to clarify legislation related to the Texas property tax, which preserved the benefits to Texas rental businesses while carving out a safe harbor for out-of-state leasing companies.
- ARA signs letters in coalition with 87 other organizations to the members of the United States Senate and House of Representatives in support of the Regulatory Accountability Act of 2013, which is designed to enhance and improve the quality of the federal rulemaking process by making it more transparent and holding agencies more accountable to the public.
- Rental Management creates a “Health Care 101” page on its website, RentalManagementMag.com, where users can find all Rental Management and Rental Pulse articles related to the ACA, as well as other helpful links and information. Articles provided throughout the year covered aspects of the law that affect ARA member businesses, such as tax implications and implementation deadlines.
- Greg Nelson, ARA of Idaho president and general manager of Brown Rental in Boise, Idaho, represents ARA in a Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship round-table at the invitation of Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho), ranking member of the Senate Committee. Nelson had met with Sen. Risch at the ARA National Legislative Caucus in April and expressed his concerns about the future of Section 179 expensing. Nelson was one of 11 people invited to participate in the discussion, entitled Small Business Tax Reform: Making the Tax Code Work for Entrepreneurs and Startups, held in Washington, D.C.
- With the help of ARA member involvement, Louisiana and Missouri pass legislation that will assist rental store operators in successfully exercising their rights under state mechanics’ lien laws.
- After a one-year delay of the employer mandate provision in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), ARA signs two coalition letters in support of H.R. 2667, the Authority for Mandate Delay Act, which encourages Congress to move forward with additional reform or a complete repeal of the employer mandate.
- The ARA board of directors conducts a top-to-bottom review of ARA’s government affairs program as part of its annual review of the strategic plan. This review resulted in a commitment by the board to increase member involvement in the government affairs program, including ARAPAC, and a reaffirmation of the high priority the board places of the government affairs program.
- The ARA board of directors develops a plan to increase member involvement in the government affairs program with implementation to begin at ARA’s Leadership Conference in October.
- ARA joins other associations representing the business community in urging Congress to reach agreement on the federal budget and an increase in the federal debt ceiling.
- ARA submits comments in response to a formal Request for Information (RFI) from the Civilian Agency Acquisition Council and the Defense Acquisition Regulations Council regarding the distinction between leasing and renting equipment for use by government agencies. The RFI is one step in the continuing process of helping government agencies understand the benefits of rental as a third procurement option.
- ARA’s Leadership Conference devotes a portion of the weekend to a presentation about the government affairs program and services for attendees from 36 states. An ARAPAC event during the conference further informs state leaders of the purpose and value of the program.
- ARA’s Government Affairs Committee meets to develop ARA’s 2014 legislative agenda and plan the 2014 National Legislative Caucus. Priority issues include a full repeal of the HIT and the extension of the Section 179 expensing provision.
- Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.) and Rep. Ami Bera (D-Calif.) introduce legislation that would delay the HIT for two years, providing relief to businesses across the country. Through its work with the HIT Coalition and efforts during its National Legislative Caucus, ARA has been working toward a repeal of this provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
- ARA joins the Affordable Health Benefits Coalition, a group that is focused on making changes to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that will reduce the cost of health insurance.