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Region Eight members press industry concerns on Capitol Hill

By Brock Huffstutler

May 16, 2023

Dave Markey, left, and Victor Proulx, right, entering a meeting with a congressional staffer

Dave Markey, left, and Victor Proulx, right, entering a meeting with a congressional staffer

Nearly 60 members of the American Rental Association (ARA) gathered in Washington, D.C., March 28-30, 2023, for ARA’s National Legislative Caucus. The event brings members of the equipment and event rental industry to Capitol Hill to meet with their elected officials to discuss the issues and concerns of the industry.

The following members from ARA’s Region Eight took part:

Caucus attendees had the opportunity to meet with members of the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives and their staff members. During these meetings, attendees talked about four key industry issues:

  • Workforce development
  • H-2B visas
  • Tax policy
  • Catalytic converter thefts

Click here for specifics on the four issues ARA members pushed for at this year’s Caucus.

The event kicked off that Tuesday afternoon with an opening session featuring Jim Ellis, senior political analyst with BIPAC (Business Industry Political Action Committee) — a nonpartisan organization that works to improve the political climate in America for the business community and help employers and employees play a more active role in public policy and the political process.

Ellis talked about trends seen in recent election cycles and how their outcomes portend what could occur in the 2024 presidential and congressional contests. “We’re definitely living in an interesting time in American political history,” he said.

The session was followed by a welcome reception, where Caucus attendees could meet one another and network with other equipment and event rental professionals from around the country.

Heather Gray

Heather Gray

On Wednesday morning, everyone headed to Capitol Hill to meet with lawmakers and staff members. Attendees shared facts, figures and personal stories about how workforce development, H-2B visas, taxes and catalytic converter thefts affect their lives, businesses and the industry.

Proulx has attended Caucus several times and knows the impact it can have. He judges this year’s efforts a success.

“I think we did pretty good overall,” Proulx says. “It was obvious that some of our issues went over better in Democratic offices and some went over better in Republican offices. Dave [Markey] and I switched off because an appointment I had was on a subject that he was more familiar with, and his appointment was on a subject I was more familiar with. Then we joined in on another meeting on the Senate side. It’s nice when you can split it up when you have to and stay together when you can.”

After a day of meetings, everyone got back together for a reception during which a bottle of Angel’s Envy-brand bourbon with a commemorative engraving was raffled off to raise money for ARAPAC — ARA’s political action committee. $14,300 was raised through the raffle; the money will be used to support candidates running for federal office who support a pro-business environment — regardless of party affiliation.

It was back to Capitol Hill on Thursday morning for a final round of meetings with legislators and their staff. Then, Caucus wrapped up with a lunch at the Capitol Hill Club that featured guest speaker U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood (R-Ill.).

Over the course of the 2023 Caucus, attendees logged approximately 170 appointments with lawmakers.

“I think maybe the best way to sum up how I was feeling would be ‘nervous anticipation,’” says Markey, a first-timer to Caucus and a member of ARA’s Event Rental Advocacy Group. “I was nervous because being my first time I wasn’t quite sure what to expect or how it all worked, but at the same time, tremendously excited to have such a unique opportunity. As it turned out, it was an incredible experience. Overall, I was happy with how my meetings went and having other members alongside definitely helped and made it more comfortable. Depending on the particular issue and whom you were speaking with, you’d tend to get a varying level of engagement, but there were definitely times where you could feel that we were making our point and our words were having an impact. That was a good feeling.”