TRAA 4th Annual Legislative Action Workshop & Hill Day

TRAA members from across the country descended on Washington D.C. again this year to attend TRAA’s annual Legislative Action Workshop & Hill Day! This event was started by the Towing and Recovery Association of America, Inc.® (TRAA) to allow towers to meet with their Members of Congress, express the needs of our industry, and gain support for industry issues on a federal level. It was my honor to participate in this event for the third year in a row.

As in years past, the first day featured five scheduled guest speakers addressing the group and discussing current industry topics. Senator Ben Cardin, Chair of the Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee, welcomed the group and congratulated us on “doing the good work” for our industry. Congressman Chris Pappas advocated and led the charge on a TRAA’s weights and measures amendment that was included in the House infrastructure package last year. Larry Minor, Associate Administrator for Policy at FMSCA, brought a wealth of knowledge to this year’s participants! He shared insight into the proposals FMCSA is planning for the remainder of this year and next including automatic braking systems, safety fitness procedures, advanced driving systems, and ELT regulations. Senator Tammy Duckworth followed Larry Minor and was very engaged and excited to see so many familiar faces. Senator Duckworth is an ally on Move Over Law enforcement and has passed legislation ordering the Government Accountability Office to conduct research into SDMO law effectiveness. Paul Wasik, U.S. Senate Professional Staff for Transportation Policy, gave us insight to the critical role committee staff play and suggestions for moving forward with several industry issues. It was refreshing to see the genuine interest and understanding the speakers have for the industry based on TRAA’s relationship building. 

New this year was the addition of group dinners in the event registration. The first one was held at a local steakhouse and provided an excellent opportunity to network, share stories, and make new friends. To say the first day was a success would be an understatement!

One of the main reasons this event is so successful is TRAA’s full-time federal lobbying firm, Tremont Strategies Group (TSG). Rated one of the country’s top performing lobbying firms by Bloomberg Government, they help navigate the red tape, coordinate constituent meetings, and guest speakers from committees of jurisdiction. They are the best of the best in federal lobbying firms.

The second day was “hill day” with attendees participating in constituent meetings with their own Members of Congress. To maximize impact, all the attendees advocate for a coordinated list of industry priorities. This year’s priorities included generating support for the National Move Over Law Day Resolution in both the House and Senate. The House version (H.Res.1052) is currently in committee and the Senate version should be introduced in August. Through TRAA’s advocacy, the resolution is endorsed by the Association of Chiefs of Police, National Volunteer Fire Council, and AAA National. The resolution will help promote awareness of state SDMO laws and help lay down the groundwork for future legislation implementation on the federal level. The second priority was amending federal regulations that limit towers’ abilities to respond to emergencies on the interstate system. In 2015 an exemption was made to certain weight restrictions for towers responding on the interstate. However, it did not cover all towers. TRAA believes the towers should be allowed to tow a vehicle that is of legal weight and length to a nearby location, so the disassembly to finish the tow may be done safely. This language was included in the House infrastructure bill. Unfortunately, it was not included in the final Senate version that became law, so TRAA is once again pushing to get it over the goal line. The meetings on day two were followed by a private, after-hours tour of the U.S. Capitol Building and a glass of wine on the balcony of the House Cannon Office Building. The second day culminated in a tremendous group dinner where we all discussed the day’s interactions with Members. 

The third and final day featured Congressmen Jim McGovern, Chairman of the House Committee on Rules, and Christian Bell, Professional Staff of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee. Congressman McGovern is a true champion for the towing and recovery industry. He introduced TRAA’s National Move Over Law Day Resolution (H.Res.1052) into the House in April and worked with Congressman Pappas on passing TRAA’s length exemption in the House infrastructure bill last year. The Congressman took time out of his schedule to meet with us every day, showing his passion, and his understanding of the industry’s needs. Thanks to TRAA, the industry certainly has friends on Capitol Hill!

TRAA’s annual Legislative Action Workshop & Hill Day was a tremendous success! TRAA has put a name, a face, and a voice in front of the nation’s legislators on behalf of the industry! Members of Congress are now not only familiar with towers but have forged personal connections with TRAA members through these events. Members of Congress have new insight into the unique needs of towers versus the rest of the trucking industry. They’re familiar with the industry’s needs because of TRAA’s commitment to making these interactions happen every year. 

Don’t just take my word for it, become a member of TRAA and help support their fight for your safety and prosperity. If you’re not already a member, you should be. Join TRAA and see how you can be part of next year’s Legislative Action Workshop & Hill Day! It will make a difference in your life and the lives of countless others.

On behalf of all this year’s attendees, I would like to say a special thank you to Gay Rochester and INA Towing Network for their spotlight sponsorship at this year’s event.

‘Till next year, get your membership, pack your suitcase, and join us in changing our industry for the better!