WASHINGTON — The estate tax, infrastructure funding, taxation of online sales, health care, scrap tires, right-to-repair and import tariffs were among the issues discussed June 20 on Capitol Hill as more than 100 Tire Industry Association members from across the U.S. convened for TIA Federal Lobby Day.
During Lobby Day, the TIA members — executives from both large and small tire retailers, distributors and retreaders — met with Capitol Hill staffers from top elected officials to discuss issues of importance to the industry.
The delegation included eight retread industry supporters, who came to deliver the industry's "Retread Instead" message to at least a few of the nation's law makers and transportation department officials.
Among the congressional offices visited were those of Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.; Rand Paul, R-Ky.; Robert Menendez, D-N.J.; Marco Rubio, R-Fla.; Chris Van Hollen, D-Md.; Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.; and Tim Kaine, D-Va, as well as Reps. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C.; Andy Harris, R-Md.; Bill Johnson, R-Ohio; and Dave Brat, R-Va.
"With so many small business issues on the table this year, it was important to share our positions with members of Congress," TIA Executive Vice President Roy Littlefield said in the June 25 issue of TIA's Weekly Legislative Update.
"It was a tremendous showing from all sectors of the tire industry, speaking in one voice on crucial industry issues," Mr. Littlefield said. "The attendance and support throughout the day was phenomenal."
In addition to meeting with Capitol Hill staffers, participants in Lobby Day attended briefings by members of Congress and officials of the U.S. Department of Transportation, as well as a luncheon that featured experts' presentations on important issues.
Takeaways from the briefings included:
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) soon hopes to publish a Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the consumer education portion of the tire fuel-efficiency labeling rule, according to Mary Versailles, NHTSA Acting Director for the Office of International Policy, Corporate Average Fuel Economy and Consumer Programs.
The tire industry has been waiting for this language since the agency promulgated a bare-bones final rule on tire fuel efficiency in March 2010.
"We submitted the language to the White House in late 2016, but DOT withdrew it shortly before the (Trump) inauguration," Ms. Versailles said.
Also, NHTSA is looking to amend the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act to include language confirming that tire retailers may use electronic means to collect and transmit tire registration information.
"TIA and other organizations talked to NHTSA about this," Ms. Versailles said. TIA lobbied for and got a requirement for conducting a study on the feasibility of electronic tire registration, she said, and the agency is waiting for completion of the study to proceed on the issue.
Stronger enforcement of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, which mandates that auto makers cannot tie service and repair warranties to the use of original equipment parts or service by franchised dealers, is one of the most important issues facing the independent auto service industry, according to Tom Tucker, state relations director for the Auto Care Association.
"Is Magnuson-Moss working?" Mr. Tucker asked. "Are there enforcement actions the Federal Trade Commission can take to make it more efficient?"
In 2006, Mr. Tucker said, he took his car for service to a Lexus dealer, who informed him that use of non-OEM parts or service would invalidate his warranty — something Magnuson-Moss expressly forbids.
"I didn't know about it at the time," he said. "Can you imagine what ordinary citizens deal with? Most consumers innocently assume that all warranty work must be performed by the dealer. That is simply not true."
The FTC has not disseminated information effectively about Magnuson-Moss, Mr. Tucker said, and taking a warranty complaint to the agency is the start of a lengthy process.
Stronger consumer disclosure requirements for warranty rights are badly needed, he said. Bills before the state legislatures in New Jersey and Maryland would require auto dealers to bring notice to consumers regarding their rights under Magnuson-Moss within 90 days of selling a car, he said.
The estate tax just celebrated its 100th birthday, and it's time to bury it, according to Alex Ayers, executive director for the Family Business Coalition, an anti-estate tax organization.
Since the Civil War, the federal government has raised estate taxes to pay for armed conflict, according to Mr. Ayers.
"The current one paid for World War I," he said, "but before, when the war ended, the tax was repealed. This one wasn't. Seventy-five percent of voters have wanted it repealed since the 1930s. So why is it still around?"
The estate tax — which Mr. Ayers referred to throughout his speech as the "death tax" — brings in about $18.3 billion of revenue annually, or 0.4 percent of federal spending, he said.
"That keeps the government open for 42 hours," he said.
Repealing the death tax would create 159,000 new jobs in the U.S., according to a study commissioned by the coalition.
The recent House tax bill included repeal of the estate tax, but the bill that passed doubled the exemption to $11.2 million for individuals or $22.4 million for couples, according to Mr. Ayers. The increased exemption expires Dec. 31, 2025, he said.
The Retread Instead supporters took advantage of Federal Lobby Day to inform and educate those they visited on the environmental and economic benefits of supporting retreading instead of buying, selling and running low-quality Chinese non-retreadable tires, according to Ron Elliott, marketing and communications manager for Marangoni Tread North America Inc. and spokesperson for Retread Instead.
The delegation began at the American Trucking Associations office with a federal agency briefing that included several representatives from the Department of Transportation, Marangoni said.
At each visit, the delegation sought to deliver its message on the importance of retreading and to lobby for Congress to ensure that the U.S. International Trade Commission — which has oversight on import duties and tariffs — has a full complement of commissioners.
"Our goal was to garner support and momentum for our cause…," Mr. Elliot said. At each office we gained additional contacts and information that will help us concentrate our efforts towards the Senate Finance committee, where at this time the nominees are waiting to be approved prior to moving on to the Senate for a full vote."
The delegation also made sure to point out in every meeting that retreading is recycling and 100 percent of the waste stream generated by retreading a tire is recycled into value-added products, Gene Walker of Premier Rubber Co. said.
Preparing a tire for retreading provides 10 to 13 pounds of raw material for children's playground safety surfaces, Mr. Walker said, but the influx of inexpensive Chinese truck tires, many of which are proving to be non-retreadable, is beginning to limit the supply of rubber buffings.
The day wrapped up with a reception in the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Room at the U.S. House's Rayburn House office building.