Descending on Washington, DC from around the
country this week, TLPA members took to Capitol Hill to urge members of
Congress to focus on two major issues for the industry: fingerprint-based
background checks and a level playing field at airports.
With a nearby hotel as a staging ground, TLPA
members were briefed June 12 with the latest updates on the issues by
association staff and consultants. The following day, members criss-crossed the
halls of Congress with their messages, meeting with dozens of elected lawmakers
(check out our
quick video highlighting the
day!) The two-day advocacy push was all part of TLPA’s annual Legislative
Fly-In for members.
On the first issue, members urged the importance
of mandating that companies providing transportation under federal contracts
ensure all drivers undergo a national fingerprint-based background check. More
than 80 programs across the federal government are authorized to fund
transportation services for individuals with disabilities, older adults,
veterans, people with lower incomes and others who require alternatives to
traditional public transportation services.
“The public must feel, at all times, that safety
is the primary concern,” TLPA President Bill Scalzi said. “Proper
biometric-based background checks are the gold standard, and they definitively
confirm that drivers are who they say they are. These checks can protect
passengers from harm and serve as a deterrent to dangerous actions, including
everything from assaults to potential terrorist actions.”
Almost uniformly, support was voiced for the
public safety benefits of requiring private sector drivers to pass a
fingerprint-based criminal background check before they could provide passenger
service under a federally funded contract.
Second, members discussed the importance of
ensuring a level playing field for transportation companies that provide
service to America’s airports. Fees for airport access for such companies must
therefore be proportional to the use of such facilities, the members said. In
addition, if passengers cannot find a carrier because it lacks equal access to
onsite facilities, or if operating rules favor one provider over another, then
airports risk artifically distorting the market.
“If companies abide by the same safety rules and
pay a fair fee for access to airports, then passengers will decide for
themselves what is the best mode of transportation, rather than the airport
tipping the scale in favor of one company over another,” Scalzi said.
A highlight of the two-day event was a presentation from Anthony
Bedell, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Intergovernmental Affairs, U.S.
Department of Transportation, the third highest-ranking official at the U.S.
DOT. Mr. Bedell’s topic was, “An Overview of the Trump Administration’s
Mr. Bedell said safety was the number one concern for the administration, which he said is also looking at creating good policies that include leveling the playing
“The turnout was fantastic, and the reception we
received from elected officials was extremely encouraging,” TLPA CEO Alfred
LaGasse said. “Our members really did an incredible job representing the issues
and concerns of our industry.”
For any members who wish they could have been
there, not to worry: These issues and more will be the topic of discussions at
upcoming TLPA events, including TLPA’s Mid-Year International
Leadership Conference in Anchorage, Alaska, July 12-15, and TLPA’s 99
Annual Convention & Trade Show in Denver, Colorado, October 8-12. So be
sure to make your plans to attend! More information can be found in the “
Meetings and Education” section of the TLPA website.
Many thanks and congratulations to the many committed members of
TLPA who participated in this excellent legislative fly-in. TLPA could not have
held this event without these dedicated members, each of whom is a leader in
the professional transportation industry!
Additional photos of the 2017 Legislative Fly-In are below: