ARA’s National Legislative Caucus
Every year, thousands of Americans – from school groups to business people – travel to Washington, D.C., to visit with their representatives on Capitol Hill. As one of ARA’s premiere leadership opportunities, ARA’s National Legislative Caucus brings state and national ARA leaders to Washington D.C. to visit, educate and build relationships with their federal representatives in both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives. Whether new attendees or Caucus veterans, participants learn about issues important to ARA at the national level and how to communicate those issues to their state’s representatives in Congress. Perhaps even more importantly, they learn how to use those same techniques back at home to educate and influence people at the state level whose decisions affect the bottom line of their businesses every single day. Grassroots advocacy is critical to the success of business in today’s world, and ARA gives members the tools and know-how to successfully promote their businesses and the industry.
ARA's 2013 National Legislative Caucus
April 16-18, 2013
2012 National Legislative Caucus, March 27 - 29
Nearly 90 ARA members from throughout the U.S. attended ARA’s 2012 National Legislative Caucus. Without the financial support of their state associations, this critical advocacy effort wouldn't be possible. A big thank you to the following ARA state associations for their financial support of caucus, through sponsorship of their members and additional contributions to the event: Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and the state and local associations within Region Six!
Those attending Caucus know that in addition to reviewing the materials from ARA , making their own preparations and scheduling appointments, flexibility is key to a successful experience. Attendees may not find out whether they will meet with a member or staff until the very last minute. Meetings may be canceled entirely. As was the case this year, they may end up talking about the very issues on which their member of Congress is preparing to vote.
Transportation and Infrastructure: America's roads, bridges, highway and infrastructure are rapidly deteriorating. Our economy loses billions of dollars each year on wasted fuel and time, as well as accidents caused by poor road, highway and bridge conditions. A long-term investment is badly needed and will pay dividends for years to come, not only in terms of increased safety and efficiency, but also in less wear and tear on delivery vehicles and rental equipment driven over these roads. Proper maintenance and upgrades to the nation's infrastructure will also put construction equipment rental operations back to work.
On March 31, 2012, the latest temporary extension of the surface transportation program was set to expire. ARA members asked their representatives for a fully funded, multiyear reauthorization of the federal transportation and infrastructure programs. On March 30, Congress passed a nine-month extension of the existing program.
Health Insurance Tax (HIT): In coalition with the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), ARA members were asked to tell their members to vote against the HIT, which is a tax mandated by the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (PPACA). The HIT would require health insurance companies to pay an annual fee which would then be passed on to those purchasing health insurance. Small businesses, such as equipment rental stores that are not self-insured, would bear the brunt of this tax and it would constitute a competitive edge to those companies who are self-insured. House members were asked to support the repeal by passing H.R. 1370 and S. 1880, the Jobs and Premium Protection Act.
The Supreme Court was hearing oral arguments on the constitutionality of PPACA's individual mandate March 26-28 while ARA's Caucus was taking place, which gave even more relevance to the issue. The Court's decision is expected at the end of June, 2012.
Take a look at how your friends and colleagues represented the equipment rental industry in Washington, D.C.!
Four members of Congress addressed the 2012 Caucus group, beginning with Rep. Heath Shuler (D-11th, N.C.) on Tuesday afternoon. Congressman Shuler related to the group as a small business owner, noting that citizen participation and involvement in all levels of government, as well as in the life of local communities and in caring for neighbors, is what really makes a difference.
Participants met on Wednesday morning for breakfast and a visit from Congressman Chip Cravaack (R-8th, Minn.). As a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure committee, Rep. Cravaack was able to directly address questions and concerns on the infrastructure issue. Rep. Cravaack was introduced by ARA of Minnesota member Jerry Kortesmaki, who knows the Congressman very well.
After additional issue briefings from Amanda Austin of NFIB and Brian Deery, Sr. Director of Highway and Transportation, Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), Caucus attendees headed to Capitol Hill for afternoon visits with their Senators, House members and their staff.
A very important aspect of Caucus is mentoring. Almost one-third of this year's participants were brand new, many of whom were the only representatives from their state. All new participants were paired with more seasoned veterans who accompanied them on Capitol Hill.
On the final morning of Caucus, members were encouraged to take their experience, knowledge and expertise back home to use at the grassroots level. Members were encouraged to tell others what they had seen, experienced and learned at Caucus and to get others involved in advocacy at the state level.
Grassroots involvement can take many forms--be creative!
- Plan a state legislative day.
- Organize a Get Out the Vote (GOTV) event at your store for membership to come and learn how they can get their employees and others involved in the upcoming elections.
- Ask a Congressman to come to your meeting or your store to learn about the issues that affect your business day in and day out.
After more visits to the Hill, members gathered one last time at the Capitol Hill Club to wrap up this year's event. Congressman Geoff Davis (R-4th, Ky.) addressed the group, sharing humorous insights on his four terms in office. Davis currently sits on the House Ways and Means committee, one of the "Committees of Jurisdiction" of great interest to ARA because this is where tax legislation and tax reform are developed, both of which impact all members significantly.
ARAPAC Reception, March 28
Thanks to the generosity of Caucus participants this year, ARAPAC raised a record-breaking $20,000 at its reception Wednesday night. Congressman Bobby Schilling (R-17th, Ill.) was the special guest speaker and agreed to select the names of the two lucky prize winners. Bob Nally and Terry Trusgnich each won a $100 American Express gift card.
Want to know how YOU can be part of the 2013 ARA National Legislative Caucus experience?
Contact Alysia Ryan (800)334-2177 ext. 271 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Marie Foster (800)334-2177 ext. 254 or email@example.com for more information. Hope to see you next year!
--Your ARA Government Affairs Team