While those in the United States continue to deal with the coronavirus (COVID-19) and its variants, eyes also are starting to look at the upcoming 2022 midterm elections. Special elections held this year may or may not hold secrets to how the 2022 elections will play out; however, it is never too early to start looking at the emerging candidates and studying their platforms for clues on how their election may impact American Rental Association (ARA) member businesses. This will be even more important with 2020 census data now determining new congressional districts in many states.
2022 midterm elections. On Nov. 8, 2022, midterm elections will take place across the country. A total of 469 seats in Congress — at least 34 Senate seats and all 435 House of Representatives seats will be up for election, along with 39 state and territorial governor races and hundreds of other state and local elections. As of November 2021, 24 representatives have announced that they will be retiring and not seeking another term. This number will likely increase in the coming months.
This will be the first election affected by the redistricting following the 2020 census. The census provided information on demographic and population density within each state and required states to begin redrawing federal and state legislative districts. These changes may affect the district where people vote.
Many congressional districts have changed or even been eliminated because some states have lost population. Other states that have gained population also are gaining congressional seats. How congressional districts are redrawn varies widely between states. For many, the majority party in the state’s legislature has redrawn the lines. With several states having primaries in March, incumbents and new candidates alike want to know what their new district looks like to determine the voter demographics of the district so they can develop a campaign strategy.
Six states are gaining congressional seats, as they have increased in population over the last 10 years, the last time the census was taken. Texas is gaining two additional congressional seats and five other states are gaining one: North Carolina, Florida, Oregon, Montana and Colorado. Seven states, on the other hand, will be losing a congressional seat, those being Michigan, Illinois, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, New York and California.
For the next 10 years until 2030, the date of the next census, voters could be assigned to new congressional, state legislative, county and local districts in which they will choose their representatives.
Focusing ARA’s advocacy efforts. In 2021, the ARA board of directors made the decision to further focus the legislative and regulatory issues that separately impact the event and equipment rental segments by splitting the association’s government affairs committee into two, including the Equipment Advocacy Workgroup and the Event Advocacy Workgroup.
“Both sides of our association have very different legislative needs and concerns,” said John McClelland, Ph.D., ARA’s vice president for government affairs and chief economist. “It makes perfect sense that the government affairs team be able to focus more deeply and meaningfully on the diversity of issues within the two segments.”
Both groups will be meeting Dec. 7-9, 2021, to hear legislative and election updates as well as determine issues to be pursued in 2022. They also will both be planning a potential caucus event in 2022.
The Event Advocacy Workgroup already has been very busy in 2021, guiding and overseeing the work of ARA staff on the formation of the Economic Bridge Coalition (EBC). The coalition was spearheaded by ARA and joined by 16 other organizations with members similarly impacted by economic losses due to social gathering restrictions during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. This effort in total represents 2 million impacted businesses and $1.2 trillion in annual economic activity.
The EBC is working to secure additional funds for these members based on revenue losses from April 1, 2020, through March 31, 2021. Procuring funds to reinvest in their business on an industry-neutral basis and allowing them to rehire laid-off employees is the main objective of the EBC. For more information, go to economicbridgecoalition.org.
The association also spent a good deal of 2021 researching and communicating with members on the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which ended in July 2021. First and second draws of PPP were available to qualified applicants able to secure these Small Business Administration (SBA)-backed loans. These loans were designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll. The loans could be used to help fund payroll costs, including benefits, and also may have been used to pay mortgage interest, rent, utilities, worker protection costs, uninsured property damage costs, and certain supplier costs and expenses for operations.
Both first and second draws of funds would be forgiven by the SBA if all the employee retention criteria were met, and the funds used for eligible expenses.
The Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) also were offered by the SBA. This federal small business loan program supported the recovery of small businesses from COVID-19’s disastrous impacts by providing access to needed capital. This program, however, was fraught with delays and was less successfully implemented than the PPP program.
State legislative initiatives. Based on input from members and ongoing work in some states, the ARA government affairs team and committees also will be working on the following initiatives in 2022:
• Colorado. This state has a special registration fee — the Special Mobile Machinery (SMM) registration — and compliance with it is proving difficult and expensive for members. The SMM is a 2 percent tax on companies that rent equipment not designed or used primarily for the transportation of persons or property, such as road construction equipment. ARA will continue to seek opportunities to work with the state to lessen confusion around the program.
• Florida. After years of attempting to change property tax law in the state, it appears that 2022 may be the year to get a tangible personal property tax relief measure passed.
• Georgia. In Georgia, there is a weight limit — 5,000 lbs. — on what equipment can be eligible for a property tax recovery fee. This presents a large and expensive administrative burden for equipment rental stores with a diverse inventory. In November, member support letters were submitted to a potential bill sponsor to amend the weight limit to 1,500 lbs., making more equipment eligible for the recovery fee and saving members money.
• Louisiana. The legislature will be looking at implementing the Streamline Sales Tax, a system adopted by states to help create a simpler, more uniform sales and use tax system. Louisiana has a complex tax system, which includes reporting to each of its many parishes. This move would again simplify and therefore reduce administrative costs associated with doing business in the state.
• Michigan. Work continues behind the scenes in Lansing, Mich., as members press for relief from the state’s general property tax and to institute a qualified heavy rental property exemption.
• Nevada. Efforts to reform Nevada’s personal property tax on rental equipment will continue in 2022. The goal is to have a bill ready to pass when the next session of the Nevada legislature meets in 2023.
ARA also is prepared to address other issues as they arise at the state level.