NATSO Outlines Advocacy Agenda For 2016

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NATSO will continue to fight tolling and rest area commercialization throughout 2016 and also will devote more resources to labor issues that affect its members, NATSO staff and members said during an Advocacy Town Hall at The NATSO Show 2016. Panelists also called on NATSO members to join in the grassroots efforts to protect their businesses.

Speaking as part of a panel, Mike Lombardi, executive vice president of sales for TravelCenters of America and Chairman of NATSO's Government Affairs Committee, said, "Each of you has a voice. When you go in as an individual operator and talk to your [elected official] you can speak genuinely about the people you employ in your district and the taxes you pay."

NATSO Vice President of Government Relations David Fialkov said engaging with lawmakers helps them understand what regulations mean to the businesses in their communities. 

Fialkov said that while NATSO has successfully fought the issue of rest area commercialization, he fears the government could take little steps to chip away at the ban, such as putting in alternative fuels at rest areas. As a result, NATSO will continue to watch the issue closely.

Tolling remains a top priority for the association.

Tolling federal interstates remains prohibited under federal law except for three states that hold slots under a pilot program. Currently, those slots are held by Missouri, North Carolina and Virginia. None has been able to implement tolls due to strong public opposition. Under the FAST Act, each state would be given one year to obtain tolling approval under the tolling pilot program, after which time the slot could be transferred to another state. 

NATSO thinks that the pilot program, known as the Interstate Reconstruction and Rehabilition Pilot Program, should be repealed in its entirety and will continue to oppose any efforts to toll existing interstate highways. 

“If they don’t begin implementing tolling within a year, other states will have the option," Fialkov said.  NATSO is beginning to position ourselves, rather than fight at the federal level, to look at the different states and push back against that there,” Fialkov said.

NATSO staff also plans to spend more time this year focusing on labor issues. 

Fialkov said the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and the Department of Labor (DOL) are working to define an employee versus an independent contractor as well as expand the universe of what constitutes an overtime employee.

The NLRB is also addressing the franchisor/franchisee relationship. “That entire model of doing business is going to be under assault over the next two to five years,” he said. 

Panelists encouraged NATSO members to attend the NATSO Day on the Hill event May 16-18 in Washington, D.C., and share their insights with lawmakers. “Our voice, collectively, resonates,” Lombardi said.

Photo Credit: Chuck Fazio/NATSO

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