NATSO led a group of trade associations representing hundreds of thousands of small businesses in urging members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to oppose H.R. 1990, legislation recently introduced by Congressman Jim Banks (R-Ind.) that would permit commercial services such as convenience stores and restaurants at Interstate rest areas.
Congressman Banks' legislation seeks to change federal law to expand the types of allowable commercial activities at rest areas along the Interstate Highway System as a means of generating infrastructure funds. Although the Congressman has said that this will help states increase infrastructure revenues, the bill would give states the ability to redirect revenues from these commercial activities as they see fit.
In a letter sent April 7 to every member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, NATSO said that H.R. 1990 is ill-conceived and counter-productive, creating far more problems than it would solve.
States and local communities suffer when exit-based businesses and the jobs they support have to cut workers and potentially close. The towns and counties that rely on those businesses for local tax revenues are then challenged to make up the lost tax revenues they rely on from those businesses.
In addition, allowing commercial food sales at rest areas would devastate the blind community, which currently enjoys a priority for installing and operating vending machines at Interstate rest areas. Many blind entrepreneurs throughout the country rely on this exception to the ban on rest area commercialization to earn a living, support their families, and realize the American dream, the letter states. If HR. 1990 became law, all of these entrepreneurs would be out of work virtually overnight.
NATSO was joined in signing the letter by the National Federation of the Blind, National Association of Convenience Stores, National Council of Chain Restaurants, Petroleum Marketers Association of America, and the Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America.
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