NATSO led a group of 15 trade associations representing off-highway communities, businesses, alternative fuel advocates and the National Federation of the Blind in urging members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to oppose efforts to commercialize Interstate rest areas as they consider infrastructure legislation this year.
NATSO and its coalition of like-minded associations sent their letter in response to a request for stakeholder input from the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure with regard to the Committee’s work on infrastructure this Congress. NATSO also plans to submit its own comments in coming days.
The House T&I Committee will hold a May 1 Members’ Day Hearing for all Members of the House of Representatives to highlight the issues of importance as the Committee moves forward with its legislative agenda.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on April 30 met with President Trump during which they agreed to work together on a $2 trillion infrastructure package. The key question of funding reportedly wasn’t discussed and will be addressed at a later meeting. House T&I Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) also attended the meeting.
In NATSO’s letter to House T&I Committee Chairman DeFazio and Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-Mo.), NATSO and its allies on the issue said that while they understood the budget challenges that many states face and the need for more infrastructure revenue, proposals to allow the private sector to operate Interstate rest areas are ill conceived and ultimately counter-productive.
“Today, our roads and bridges are in dire need of improvement, and [we] all strongly support increased investment in our nation’s infrastructure,” the groups said in the letter. “Policies that incentivize such investment, however, should be designed to create jobs. Commercializing rest areas would eliminate jobs, while at the same time undercutting a number of important policy priorities that affect various sectors of the economy.”
In addition to hurting businesses and consumers, commercial rest areas threaten cities and towns as well as the livelihood of blind merchants. Commercial rest areas also discourage investment in alternative fuels and constrict truck parking capacity.
Signatories included the Asian American Hotel Owners Association; Franchise Business Services; International Franchise Association; National Association of Convenience Stores; National Automatic Merchandising Association; National Council of Chain Restaurants; National Federation of the Blind; National Franchisee Association; National League of Cities; National Restaurant Association; National Tank Truck Carriers; Natural Gas Vehicles for America; Petroleum Marketers Association of America and the Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America.
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