NATSO is on the front lines keeping us up to date on the latest happenings on Capitol Hill, but it is up to us to take action. In May, operators from across the country will converge on Capitol Hill for face-to-face meetings with the elected officials who are shaping the way we do business. We encourage all members to join us in Washington, D.C., but you don’t have to travel to make your voice heard. All of our elected officials have offices in our home states and they want to hear from you.
This year is especially important as Congress is currently working on the latest version of the highway bill. This is a crucial time for us to spread our message on tolling, privatization and rest area commercialization. These threats are real on both a federal and state level, and we must remain unified to keep a constant presence with our lawmakers. For grassroots government affairs to work, we as operators have to be involved. We are the people who vote. As local business owners, we put a real face on the industry. We can tell our firsthand stories about the number of jobs we create and the value we bring to our communities.
I know calling an elected official or stepping into his or her office can be intimidating, but officials are only going to vote on the information they have. Lawmakers want our ideas.
In my home state of Virginia, we recently faced an imminent threat of commercialization. By mobilizing the state, we were able to stave off the threat for now. As part of our efforts to maintain the commercialization ban, I met with Virginia’s lieutenant governor and shared my story. What was remarkable is that he turned to me and asked for my ideas. He not only wanted to know how the proposal would affect my businesses and my employees, he wanted to know my solutions for the state.
As we all work toward the common goal of improving our businesses, I urge you to remember the role government plays in our operations. If you can’t schedule a meeting, send an email or make a phone call. Invest in your industry by taking the time to share the real-world insight that will ensure lawmakers make the best decisions for their constituents and our communities.
This article originally ran in Stop Watch magazine. Stop Watch provides in-depth content to assist NATSO members in improving their travel plaza business operations and provides context on trends and news affecting the industry.
The magazine is mailed to NATSO members bimonthly. If you are a member and not receiving Stop Watch, submit a request to be added to the mailing list. Not a member? Join today or submit a request to receive additional information.
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