July 2016 ATD Chairman's Column

By Steve Parker, July 2016

Steve Parker
ATD Chairman
Steve Parker

Last month, ATD hosted its second annual fly-in on Capitol Hill where commercial truck dealers urged members of Congress to protect dealerships from harmful policies and regulations that would hinder the growth of one of America’s most important industries.

ATD’s summer meeting turned up the heat with 67 congressional meetings, congressional guest speakers, and critical legislative briefings that were held in conjunction with ATD’s annual June board meeting. This was an ideal opportunity to speak to our elected officials and hear from them. I had the honor of speaking with my own U.S. Senator, Ben Cardin (D-Md.). It was reassuring to see that many of our congressmen and senators understood what’s at stake in our industry.

Our No. 1 legislative priority at the fly-in was opposing an increase in the federal excise tax (FET), which is applied to the sale of most heavy-duty trucks, tractors and trailers at its current rate of 12 percent. During our board meeting, we had the privilege of hearing from Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.)—one of the authors of H. Con. Res. 33, a bipartisan resolution that puts Congress on record in opposition to a FET increase. Rep. Walz co-sponsored the bill, along with Rep. Reid Ribble (R-Wis.).

Walz stated: “When you raise the taxes on new, clean and efficient trucks, you encourage people to buy old, dirty trucks and you don’t move the economy ... one of those unintended consequences is people purchase older trucks that actually have higher carbon emissions.”

As a result of the Hill visits, three additional congressional co-sponsors have joined and several others are pending bringing us to 33 bipartisan cosponsors on H. Con. Res. 33.

Another ATD legislative priority is informing Congress about dealer concerns with the proposed Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) / National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Phase 2 greenhouse gas / fuel economy rule. If unreasonably implemented, this rule will have negative consequences for truck dealerships, employees and the economy.

Last week, I had the opportunity to meet with White House officials who are reviewing the EPA / NHTSA Phase 2 rule. At the meeting, I highlighted ATD’s concerns with the rule's technological feasibility and cost effectiveness, and questioned its potential impact on the upfront and ownership costs of new equipment. I also raised issues with the rule's lengthy timeframe (2018-2027), suggesting that there be a mid-term review to reevaluate underlying assumptions, akin to that set out in a comparable rule for light-duty fuel economy mandates.

I’d like to sincerely thank all our engaged and hardworking truck dealer members and state association executives who attended the ATD fly-in and contributed to a hugely successful week. Not only did we make our voices heard this month, but we created and solidified relationships for the future. Hosting officials at our dealerships during the congressional recesses is a logical next step.

I urge truck dealers across the country to host your members of Congress this summer when they are home in their districts. Thanks to the efforts of our dealers, we have six pending visits to dealerships across the nation as a direct result of our fly-in. With decisions looming this year, these visits are vital to building long-term relationships with our own legislators, and not just when we’re on Capitol Hill.

ATD represents more than 1,800 medium- and heavy-duty truck dealerships, and we stand committed to protecting each one of you now and into the future.

For more information on H. Con. Res. 33, S. Con. Res. 40 and ATD’s other legislative priorities, click here.