2021 Legislative Wins

How NACS worked to make the industry’s voice heard in Congress.

2021 Legislative Wins

February 2022   minute read

By: Anna Ready Blom

As the COVID-19 pandemic continued to dominate the landscape, a new president took office and Democrats took control of both chambers of Congress, NACS was hard at work representing the industry in Washington, D.C. Democrats pushed a new progressive agenda, using the reconciliation process to pass the American Rescue Plan, and attempted to pass another multitrillion social spending package known as Build Back Better that fell short in December. After months of negotiations, Congress passed the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which President Joe Biden signed into law. 

NACS advocated for the industry’s policy priorities on a number of fronts in 2021 and continues to identify ways to achieve success for our members. Here are some of the accomplishments NACS delivered for the industry in 2021.

Key Figures

  • 2,700, The number of industry calls to action that retailers and suppliers sent to Capitol Hill on EV charging infrastructure, EV charging at rest areas, tax increases in the reconciliation package and the federal excise tax 
  • 234, The number of meetings NACS Day on the Hill attendees participated in 2021 

BIPARTISAN INFRASTRUCTURE BILL

  • Defeated several attempts by the White House and Democratic leaders to include EV charging at rest areas in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill. NACS also stopped an attempt to include language in the Senate Energy Committee’s markup that would have bolstered electric utilities and disadvantaged our industry. 

  • Achieved language in the final bill to ensure that retailers are eligible to participate in the alternative fuels corridor grant program and that the program would be structured to encourage private sector investment and a competitive market for EV charging.

  • Organized a member of Congress sign-on letter to leadership raising concerns over investor-owned utilities passing along the costs of EV charging stations to all ratepayers— even if they don’t own an EV. The letter was signed by 17 Democratic House members. 

  • Ensured that the current ban on rest area commercialization remained in place and that allowing tolling on existing interstates remained a pilot program and not expanded.

  • Worked to include a pilot program for appropriately trained and certified truck drivers between the ages of 18 and 20 to be allowed to participate in interstate commerce.

FUELS

  • Successfully worked with the White House and Biden Administration during the Colonial Pipeline shut-down to secure critical fuel, hours-of-service and weight restriction waivers. Additionally, NACS was able to secure a Jones Act waiver and dyed diesel penalty waiver.

  • Assisted the Idaho state association with fuel pricing data, research and message testing to successfully push back on a price gouging effort targeting convenience stores in the state.

  • Filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that oil industry defendants should have the opportunity to try to move cases against them on climate change to federal court, as NACS advocated.

  • Helped stop an amendment to the defense authorization bill that would have moved the RFS point of obligation from refiners, importers and manufacturers to fuel marketers and blenders.

  • Successfully worked with the Army Corps of Engineers to lift the halt on Sec. 404 Nationwide Permits under the Clean Water Act. There had been a temporary pause on granting these stormwater permits due to a court case in California. NACS met with the Army Corps to share concerns that a halt on approving these applications would delay many construction, renovation and development projects for the industry all over the U.S. 

HOURS-OF-SERVICE WAIVERS

• Won multiple extensions of the hours-of-service waiver for truck drivers hauling goods to c-stores and ensured the waiver included fuel haulers due to COVID-19.

• Achieved other regional hours-of- service waivers for c-stores affected by the fires in the West and refinery shutdowns in the Midwest.

TOBACCO AND VAPE PRODUCTS

• Successfully stopped legislation that would have substantially raised the federal excise tax on tobacco and nicotine products.

OSHA VACCINE MANDATE

• Led a coalition letter with other fuel retailing associations to OSHA outlining industry concerns with the pending rule and also met with administration staff via teleconference to express these concerns.

• Filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit to block the OSHA mandate from moving forward. The U.S. Supreme Court heard the case in January 2022 and blocked enforcement of the rule for private employers. The stay will remain in place until the 6th Circuit dispenses with the full legal challenge.

HOUSE RECONCILIATION – BUILD BACK BETTER ACT

• Advocated for the industry’s tax priorities, and the House’s final reconciliation package did not include a cap of the 199(A) deduction, changes to the estate tax, a repeal of LIFO Accounting, an increase on the top individual tax rate or an increase in the corporate tax rate.

• Led a coalition of retail groups in opposition to the House’s proposed increase of the federal excise tax (FET) on tobacco and nicotine products. House Democrats removed the FET increase on cigarettes, cigars and smokeless products. However, the bill includes a tax on vapor products.

PAYMENTS

• Advocated against Visa and Mastercard regarding swipe-fee increases that were slated to take effect in April 2021, and they were delayed a year.

• Urged the Federal Trade Commission, Department of Justice and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to investigate the anti-competitive practices of the card brands. These agencies filed comment letters raising these issues in the Federal Reserve’s rulemaking on the debit regulations. Additionally, DOJ announced it is investigating Visa for offering incentive payments to PayPal, Square and Stripe.

SNAP

• Championed legislation to allow Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients the flexibility of using their benefits to purchase hot foods. 

NACS GRASSROOTS

  • Held the first-ever Virtual Day on the Hill with 133 retailers and state association executives and 20 suppliers in attendance, with 42 first-time attendees. Attendees participated in a total of 234 congressional meetings by video or phone conference.

  • Hosted nine Virtual Townhalls with convenience retailers and freshmen members of Congress and hosted two NACS In Store events.

  • Organized industry calls to action with retailers and suppliers, sending nearly 2,700 messages to Capitol Hill on EV charging infrastructure, EV charging at rest areas, tax increases in the reconciliation package and the federal excise tax.

NACSPAC

  •  Raised $701,546 with 474 contributors in 2021 compared to $607,390 with 301 contributors in 2020 and $718,600 with 443 contributors in 2019.

  • Helped ensure that the voice of the convenience and fuel retailing industry was heard on Capitol Hill. NACSPAC contributed $657,000 by supporting 137 candidates and 51 leadership PACs in 2021. 

  • Since 2022 is a mid-term election year, there is no doubt that Congress and the Biden Administration will continue to push their progressive agenda in the coming months. NACS, with your help, will continue to work to build on 2021’s success and push back on proposals that may harm our industry. One of our industry’s greatest strengths is our grassroots engagement. Our industry employs more than two million Americans, and when we are able to speak with a unified voice it is nearly impossible for lawmakers to ignore. NACS continues to encourage NACS members to remain engaged and to continue to respond to the grassroots alerts and engage with your lawmakers not just at the federal level but also at the state and local level. All levels of political engagement benefit the industry.