APRO held its first Virtual Legislative Conference on April 28, 2021, following a year off due to the pandemic. As the rent-to-own industry’s protection becomes increasingly important under a new Presidential administration, building and maintaining political relationships has become increasingly difficult because of the COVID-19 crisis. The 2021 APRO Virtual Legislative Conference offered more than 100 attendees information, insight, and support as RTO navigates this new political landscape.

State Presidents met to discuss strategies and how best to manage operations as volunteer leaders.

Following a productive morning meeting with State Association Presidents, the afternoon Legislative Conference sessions kicked off with Legislative and Legal Updates from Brian Farrington, Shareholder at Cowles & Thompson, and Ed Winn III, APRO General Counsel. Farrington covered employment topics of interest for rent-to-own businesses, including wage-and-hour issues, employment relationship issues, and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issues.

Ed Winn III presents the recent legislation from different states during the Legislative and Legal Update session.

Winn gave a typically entertaining and educational presentation on the state of federal policy, as well as current and recent investigations, legislation, and regulations at the state level. He also reminded APRO members about why staying involved in the political world is essential to the wellbeing of their businesses.

“It’s so very important that we tell friend and foe alike the RTO story,” asserted Winn. “As you are aware today, the narrative is everything. RTO has a story to be told. There are two sides to that story; legal aid lawyers are telling their side of that story, and we need to be telling our side of the story. That’s why we go to D.C.”

Shareholders at Greenberg Traurig LLP Demetrius McDaniel (left) and Robbie Kamerschen (right), with APRO Executive Director Jill McClure (bottom).

During Challenges in a New Administration, Shareholders at Greenberg Traurig LLP Robbie Kamerschen and Demetrius McDaniel provided an overview on the state of play in Washington, D.C., including President Biden’s plan for small business and his tax agenda, the Federal Trade Commission’s and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s probable priorities moving forward, and other federal issues and programs important to rent-to-own companies and their customers – such as minimum wage, corporate and personal tax rates, supplemental federal unemployment insurance, and infrastructure spending.

Lobbyist Panel Speakers: Corinne Mixon (left), Mike Houlihan (right), and P.J. Cimini (bottom).

Finally, before splitting into State Association breakout groups, participants enjoyed the State Issues Lobbyist Panel, featuring P.J. Cimini, Founder and Principal at Capitol Strategies Group LLC in Connecticut, Mike Houlihan, Founder of Drexwood Partners LLC in Illinois, and Corinne Mixon, Senior Director of Government Relations at Rutledge Ecenia, PA in Florida. The panel covered a broad spectrum of legislative topics, including Zoom calls with lawmakers, regulatory investigative powers, COVID-19 liabilities, and why building strong relationships with customers is critical to state lobbying efforts.

The 2021 APRO Virtual Legislative Conference was sponsored by TRIB Group, Ashley Furniture Industries, Benefit Marketing Solutions, Nationwide RentDirect, Nationwide Southwest, Audit Advantage, O’Rourke Sales Company, PTS Direct Benefits, Rivero, Gordier & Company PA, Slumba LLC, and Whitsell and Company, PC.