Arizona Lawmakers Pass Misguided Legislation

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.

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