NATSO and its members are like defensive linemen, said Lisa Mullings, NATSO’s President and CEO, as she addressed attendees at The NATSO Show 2013.
“It is our job to prevent bad ideas and bad policies from becoming bad law. If your defense isn’t top notch, then your team can’t win. What we’re trying to do is prevent our opponents, which could be another industry or a lawmaker, from reaching their destination, which could be to make a bad law,” she said.
As a group and individually, NATSO’s members fought throughout 2012 to prevent bad laws from being passed, Mullings explained. For example, Sen. Rob Portman in Ohio proposed an amendment to commercialize rest areas, despite opposition from NATSO.
“I think they thought of us as a small organization and a relatively small industry,” Mullings said. He soon learned just how powerful the nation’s highway-based businesses are.
“We mobilized our members and we mobilized our coalition partners,” Mullings said. Highway-based businesses, including restaurants and fuel retailers, reached out to their elected officials encouraging them to vote against the amendment.
“We won that battle,” Mullings said. “We only had 12 senators vote against us. That is because of all of the work you did.”
Mullings also recognized Rex Davis of Davis Travel Centers in Virginia and Ernie Brame of Kenly 95 Truckstop in North Carolina for their work opposing tolls in their home states.
“The state of Virginia in their application admits that 40 to 45 percent of traffic will be diverted off the interstate,” Mullings said. “To where?“
As a result of NATSO members’ effort, North Carolina is holding off on tolls pending a further study, and lawmakers have introduced bills in the Virginia legislature that would require a vote from the General Assembly before tolls could be implemented.
Mullings thanked members for their contribution and encouraged them to continue to stay involved. She asked, “If we weren’t here, would this nation have commercialized rest areas or tolls?”