Archive for February, 2011

Arizona Lawmakers Pass Misguided Legislation

Monday, February 28th, 2011

Arizona lawmakers recently passed misguided legislation allowing a process for the Arizona Department of Transportation to lease rest area land if Congress ever changed Federal Law.

 

Ironically, the provision was part of the Arizona Competitiveness Package, which included a mix of targeted business incentives and broad tax reforms designed to spur the Arizona economy.

 

Arizona lawmakers should understand that leasing rest area land will in fact have the opposite effect – devastating Interstate-based businesses statewide and killing the local communities they support by providing jobs and local tax revenues.

 

The Federal prohibition on the sale of food, fuel and other services at Interstate rest areas was implemented in the 1960s precisely to spur economic development along the nation’s highways.

 

Congress feared that highway motorists would bypass cities and towns springing up near the Interstate if states were allowed to sell commercial services directly along the Interstate right-of-way.

 

Since then, Congress has time and again upheld the ban on commercial rest areas because Congress understands that permitting states to operate directly along the Interstate gives the state an unfair advantage by granting it direct access to highway motorists.

 

Arizona’s recent actions threaten more than 1,200 businesses located within a quarter mile of an Interstate highway that employ more than 31,000 people.

 

NATSO and the Partnership to Save Highway Communities strongly oppose Arizona’s recent actions and will continue fighting these unwise pieces of legislation and to keep the long-standing Federal prohibition on rest area commercialization intact.

Supporting Interstate Businesses Sustains Jobs and Local Communities

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) said last week that a long-term plan for funding the nation’s infrastructure will be finalized by September come “hell or high water.”

Considering the seventh extension of the current highway funding law, one can only hope that a long-term plan for financing national infrastructure moves forward expeditiously.

With that goal in mind, Rep. Mica plans to host a series of public listening sessions in the coming days to gather public input on what a long-term highway bill should include and how the government should go about increasing revenues to pay for those projects.  

During the Surface Transportation Reauthorization debate, the Partnership to Save Highway Communities asks Rep. Mica to keep the perspective of Interstate-based businesses in mind.

While we certainly recognize that the committee will be looking for new ways to finance highways and bridges, we hope it rejects any attempts to weaken the current prohibition on commercial development of the interstate right-of-way, should it be discussed.

With states looking for new revenue streams, we are now seeing some State Departments of Transportation call for rest area commercialization, which has been prohibited by Congress since 1960.  Allowing state governments to set up shop from the rest area will simply siphon customers away from the businesses at the interstate exits. This, in turn, would rob local communities of jobs and tax revenues needed to fund vital public services.

Supporting interstate-based businesses through good transportation policy will sustain jobs and strengthen local communities at a time when our economy needs it.

CStore News Explores Problems Posed by Commercial Rest Areas

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

Convenience Store News last week featured a guest column by NATSO immediate past Chairman Scott Paulson discussing the threat of expansion of rest area commercialization on interstate businesses and the communities those businesses support.

In the article “State-Run Travel Plazas ‘Rob Peter to Pay Paul,’” Paulson said that most state governments are strapped for cash and will continue to desperately pursue any and all options to raise revenues, including turning their backs on the small businesses and communities along their interstates.

Paulson, who is a partner in Silco Oil Co. with locations in Colorado and Arizona, said location is the single most important factor when it comes to long-term success of an interstate-based business. If states are allowed to set up shop at rest areas, they would have access to prime locations and the years and dollars invested to build his business would be wasted.

Wyoming Amends Legislation Aimed at Constructing Natural Gas Filling Stations

Monday, February 7th, 2011

The Wyoming State Legislature last week amended HB 0235, which would have allowed the Wyoming Department of Transportation to construct natural gas filling stations, and instead turned it into a pilot project to demonstrate the efficacy of natural gas, thanks to the efforts of the Colorado Wyoming Petroleum Marketers Association.

As originally drafted, the bill would have allowed WYDOT to enter into contracts to construct and operate natural gas filling stations. The bill was amended, however, to say that only state-owned government vehicles could utilize the WYDOT natural gas filling stations. The effort to build alternative fueling stations also was transitioned into a pilot project to study the effectiveness of natural gas.