Government decisions are shaping the way truckstop and travel plaza operators will do business in the future, and operators and vendors need to work together to advance the industry’s shared advocacy goals. During a government affairs town hall meeting at NATSO Connect, David Fialkov, NATSO vice president of government relations and legislative and regulatory counsel, provided an inside-the-beltway scoop on some of the biggest government affairs issues facing the industry today.
Fialkov kicked off the session with a recap of the election results, in which Democrats gained 38 seats in the House and Republicans gained two seats in the Senate. Democrats gained support in urban and suburban areas, which Fialkov said is indicative of a larger trend.
During the 116th Congress, Fialkov said Democrats will have to start addressing division within their party. “Because we’re going to be getting into primary season, they’ll have to identify where they want the party to go,” he said, adding that large pieces of legislation could stall.
Funding for transportation infrastructure remains a top priority for NATSO as well as those within the trucking industry. “In the near term, our roads are thoroughly under invested and that is a problem for you,” Fialkov told NATSO Connect attendees. “That means it is less efficient to move people and goods on the interstate. When that is the case, it is more expensive for freight to move. It takes more money to fix trucks, which means less money to spend in your stores.”
Fuels policy also remains a top concern. Fialkov discussed the Renewable Fuels Standard, biodiesel tax credit and the electrification of commercial vehicle fleets. The $1 a gallon biodiesel tax credit has not been extended for 2018, but the outlook for an extension is optimistic. “The good news is we’re now unified as a biodiesel supply chain on what we want the biodiesel tax credit to look like,” Fialkov said.
Following Fialkov’s presentation, Ernie Brame, chairman of NATSO’s government affairs committee and general manager at Kenly 95 Truckstop in Kenly, North Carolina, invited operators to attend NATSO Day on Capitol Hill May 14-16 at the Westin Georgetown. “I know we’re all busy with 24/7 businesses, but we need 100 people in Washington,” he said.
As part of the event, NATSO arranges for NATSO members to meet with their lawmakers and provides training to make the Capitol Hill visits as easy as possible, Brame said.
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