Members of the American Car Rental Association (ACRA) descended on Capitol Hill on Wednesday to meet with members of Congress to address and advance issues important to the car rental industry. Discussion topics covered legislation on excise taxes, vehicle data access, and vehicular terrorism.
Some 38 ACRA members and associate members attended ACRA’s fifth-annual “Fly-In,” which also included an ACRA board meeting, legislative updates from industry groups, associate member presentations, and a reception for members of Congress hosted by ACRAPAC, the association’s political action committee.
ACRA members divided into constituent groups on Wednesday to meet members of Congress and their staffs for the Day on the Hill meetings.
On the excise tax issue, ACRA seeks to enact federal legislation to provide car rental customers the same federal protections from discriminatory state and local taxes as the customers of the bus, airline, motor freight, rail, and maritime industries.
While bipartisan standalone car rental excise tax legislation had been introduced in both the House and Senate, the House/Senate conference report on the 2018 FAA reauthorization bill contained an amendment that focused specifically on discriminatory excise taxes on airport transactions. The amendment permits taxation of car rental transactions only if the taxes will be used to reinvest in the airport.
The House of Representatives passed the 2018 FAA reauthorization conference report on Wednesday with the excise tax language included. The conference report awaits a vote in the Senate.
“As about 50% of car rental transactions take place on airport, this legislation if enacted would have a chilling effect on jurisdictions looking to tax car rental for completely unrelated projects such as sports stadiums,” said Greg Scott, ACRA’s lobbyist.
As the auto industry continues to develop autonomous and connected vehicles, the amount of data generated by automobiles grows exponentially. ACRA has joined a coalition of associations, consumer groups, and industry vendors to urge Congress to pass legislation that ensures access to and control of vehicle data by multiple stakeholders — particularly vehicle owners.
To that end, ACRA supports a section of the Senate legislation covering the regulation of autonomous vehicles, the AV START Act: “American Vision for Safer Transportation through Advancement of Revolutionary Technologies.”
The section, sponsored by Senators James Inhofe (R-OK) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI),directs the Department of Transportation and the Federal Trade Commissions, along with a working group of stakeholders, study the issue of data access and control to make recommendations to Congress on the principles and framework for how federal legislation can achieve these goals.
ACRA is following legislation that would require the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to report on actions it is taking and can take to combat the threat of vehicular terrorism.
ACRA maintains its support of a dialogue on this issue. At the same time, ACRA members have already forged working relationships with DHS, FBI, and other groups on methods to prevent vehicular terrorism.
Along with these stakeholders, ACRA iterates its resolve to take the necessary steps to prevent terrorism using rental cars and trucks.
Sponsoring this year's event were member companies Card Connect, Lancer Insurance, Polsinelli, PurCo, Leslie Saunders Insurance, Alternative Claims Management, GeoTab, and CarVi. "This was another great Day on the Hill, and we couldn't have produced it without the help and participation of our sponsors," said Sharon Faulkner, executive director of ACRA.