Senate Urged to Vote No to Sen. Portman Amendment #1742

ALEXANDRIA, Va., March 6, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Partnership to Save Highway Communities today urged the Senate to oppose Amendment 1742 of highway transportation legislation, S. 1813, which jeopardizes thousands of businesses operating at the exits along the nation's highways.

Amendment 1742, authored by Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, seeks to overturn the law prohibiting the sale of food, fuel and convenience items at interstate rest areas and instead allow state DOTs to shore up budget shortfalls on the backs of small businesses by permitting commercial activities in rest areas along the highway.

Sen. Portman's amendment threatens nearly 97,000 small businesses operating within a quarter mile of the Interstate Highway System, endangering the jobs of more than 2 million Americans. 

"Senator Portman has said that his top priority in the U.S. Senate is to promote job creation and help Ohio small businesses to succeed," said NATSO President and CEO Lisa Mullings, and a member of the Partnership to Save Highway Communities. "Yet he has introduced an amendment that poses the single biggest threat small business owners have ever faced under a highway bill. Contrary to claims that he will support the private sector, this initiative will pull the rug out from under the nation's interstate-based fast food franchisees, convenience stores, gas stations and truck stops and instead allow state governments to monopolize the business of motorists."

Contrary to claims that Sen. Portman's amendment represents a move to privatize rest areas, Congress effectively privatized highway services long ago. In 1960, Congress prohibited states from offering commercial services at rest areas along the Interstate Highway System specifically so that private sector entities would grow and provide services to the motoring public.

"The government is not in the business of selling food and fuel; the private sector is already meeting that need," said Mullings. "Sen. Portman's amendment is a move to expand government, at a cost to existing businesses."

In a recent study of commercial rest areas, the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that commercializing rest areas nationwide could cause a 46 percent decrease in sales at Interstate-serving gas stations, a 44 percent decrease in sales at Interstate-serving restaurants, and a 35 percent decrease in truck service sales at Interstate-serving truckstops.

Statistics in Sen. Portman's home state of Ohio bear this out. Along the Ohio Turnpike, where commercialization is permitted, just 109 businesses operate along the 239 miles of the Turnpike. Some 1,036 businesses, by comparison, thrive along the 212 miles of Interstate 75, where businesses are allowed to compete on a level playing field at the interstate exit interchanges.

Amendment 1742 would grant state governments the ability to set up shop directly along the interstate right-of-way. This location gives the states a major advantage over the businesses at the exits. Allowing commercial rest areas will not increase the number of hamburgers or gasoline gallons sold, but simply transfer sales away from the current competitive environment at highway exits, to the single contractor that pays the largest amount of rent to the state to operate on the shoulder of the Interstate. 

To learn more about the Partnership to Save Highway Communities, visit www.jobsnextexit.com.

Members of the Partnership to Save Highway Communities include:

National Associations and Companies:
NATSO, Representing America's Travel Plazas and Truckstops
National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS)
National Restaurant Association
National Council of Chain Restaurants
National Council of State Agencies for the Blind (NCSAB)
Petroleum Marketers Association of America (PMAA)
Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America (SIGMA)
McDonald's Corporation
Burger King Corporation
Association of Kentucky Fried Chicken Franchisees
Brinker International
Coalition of Franchisee Associations
Franchise Management Advisory Council
International Pizza Hut Franchise Holders Association
International Sign Association (ISA)
Interstate Dairy Queen Corporation
Kum & Go, L.C.
National Association of Shell Marketers
National Franchise Association (Burger King franchisees)
OSI Restaurant Partners (Outback Steakhouse and other brands)
Sheetz, Inc.
Taco Bell Franchise Management Advisory Council
Yum! Brands

State Associations:
Colorado Motor Carriers Association
Petroleum & Convenience Marketers of Alabama
Arizona Petroleum Marketers Association
Arkansas Oil Marketers Association, Inc.
California Independent Oil Marketers Association
Colorado Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association
Idaho Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association
Illinois Petroleum Marketers Association/ Illinois Association of Convenience Stores
Indiana Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Store Association
Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Stores of Iowa
Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association of Kansas
Kentucky Petroleum Marketers Association
Louisiana Oil Marketers and Convenience Store Association
Mid-Atlantic Petroleum Distributors' Association
Michigan Petroleum Association and Michigan Association of Convenience Stores
Missouri Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association
Minnesota Petroleum Marketers
Montana Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association
Nebraska Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association
Nevada Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Store Association
Independent Oil Marketers Association of New England
Fuel Merchants Association of New Jersey
North Carolina Petroleum & Convenience Marketers
North Dakota Petroleum Marketers Association
Ohio Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Store Association
Oklahoma Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Store Association
Oregon Petroleum Association
Pennsylvania Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Store Association
South Carolina Petroleum Marketers Association
South Dakota Petroleum and Propane Marketers Association
Tennessee Fuel & Convenience Store Association
Utah Petroleum Marketers & Retailers Association
Virginia Petroleum, Convenience and Grocery Association
Washington Oil Marketers Association
West Virginia Oil Marketers and Grocers Association
Wisconsin Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Store Association
Wyoming Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Store Association

The Partnership to Save Highway Communities is a coalition of associations, corporations, small businesses and other stakeholders that share a common goal: preserving the valuable relationships between interstate highway motorists and community businesses serving their needs. The coalition is dedicated to ensuring that interstate highway rights-of-way remain free of commercial development.

Contact:
Tiffany Wlazlowski
Senior Director of Public Affairs
NATSO
+1-703-739-8578

SOURCE Partnership to Save Highway Communities




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