On Thursday, April 14, the American Car Rental Association (ACRA) became aware through one of its members that Florida State Senator Gwen Margolis had inserted language in the State Transportation bill to restrict fees charged by rental car companies to rental car consumers who violate toll requirements and do not advise the rental company. The bill would have limited the collection for all violations occurring during a rental to $2.50/day, to a maximum of $10 per contract, yet the rental car company would have remained liable to the State for the toll and a fine of up to $100 per occurrence.
A grassroots effort was immediately undertaken by ACRA and the South Florida Car and Truck Rental Association. Lobbyists were engaged, letters were written and phone calls made, and within 48 hours, ACRA was successful in having the language removed. The communications explained to legislators that toll collections are not a profit center, but a cost recovery for actual labor incurred to chase down the violators and to pay the State.
Bob Barton, president of ACRA, commented on the effort: "This is a perfect example of how effective we can be when we all work under the umbrella of ACRA. When Florida went to a cashless toll system, the State of Florida did not recognize or consider the burden this placed on rental companies, privately held companies, and other individuals using non-personal vehicles. As the owners of the vehicles we have the obligation for tolls, yet there is quite a significant labor effort in tracking down and collecting from the renter who actually incurred the violation. By consolidating our effort under the ACRA banner, we were able to convince the legislators that this language, while attempting to protect consumers, actually shifted a large cost burden to operators for the consumer's lack of compliance with the law."