Decisions are made on Capitol Hill, but lawmakers’ votes are largely influenced by what they learn from their constituents when they are back home in their districts. That is why the August recess period is the perfect time for NATSO members to host their elected officials at their locations and give lawmakers an up-close look at the important role truckstops and travel plazas play in their communities.
“Members of Congress are often at their best when they are out of their office and are meeting with their constituents. That is where the rubber meets the road,” said Shannon Meade, senior director of government and political affairs. “This is the year to take advantage of it because it is an election year and members will be spending an incredible amount of time in their districts in August.”
NATSO has taken an active role in facilitating visits between operators and their representatives. “We are working to raise the industry profile,” Meade said. “We’ve coordinated several visits with Members of Congress who have jumped at the opportunity to go out, interact with their constituents and learn about the industry.”
For the Member of Congress, site visits allow them to see and experience first-hand the business operations and engage in a discussion about their successes and the challenges operators face as an industry.
NATSO can provide support to help make the visit as valuable as possible. Meade said some operators look to NATSO to provide structure for the meeting while others like to let the conversation grow organically. “We’re taking time to interact with our members and talk about how they envision the meeting going and how we can support them,” Meade said. “We are happy to outline the visit to provide structure.”
Meade stressed that it is crucial for operators to share their insight with lawmakers. “Part of getting your point across or explaining how a particular issue effects you and the industry. It makes it hit home,” Meade said. “Unless they hear from you directly, they don’t know otherwise.”
NATSO members interested in hosting a site visit can either reach out to their representatives on their own or reach out to NATSO to do it on their behalf. “We would encourage our members to lean on us to help them facilitate those visits,” Meade said.
In an effort to create favorable publicity for the site visit, NATSO will make an effort to invite local media to cover the event.
Meade said operators should issue their invitations soon. “Members are putting their August and October schedules together, so now is the perfect time to reach out,” Meade said.
Photo Credit: Mindy Long/NATSO from when NATSO facilitated a congressional visit with California's Joe's Travel Plaza
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