Working to Make Your Voices Heard

SEMA News—August 2012  

CHRIS KERSTING 

Working to Make Your Voices Heard

  Chris Kersting-SEMA President and CEO, Automotive Aftermarket Research, Automotive Accessories Research 
   
Our primary mission here at SEMA is simple: to help our member businesses succeed and prosper. One of the most important ways we do that is through legislative and regulatory advocacy. In a nutshell, it’s our goal to make your voices heard.

To that end, SEMA supports a dedicated and highly active team of government affairs experts on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. They’re focused on identifying and affecting issues that make a difference to your business.

This can only be accomplished by continuous, year-round activity and a long-term presence. To be effective, we need to take consistent, well-researched positions, to follow up as the legislative process unfolds and to persist as debate over key issues
plays out.

In this issue, you’ll find an update on the state of affairs in our nation’s capital, highlights of some of the important strategic initiatives now in progress and a recap of valuable resources available to members. It’s a snapshot of some of the issues your association is addressing on the legislative front, as they stand today.

You’ll see that our focus is not, by any means, strictly on the federal level. SEMA’s legislative/regulatory team is based in D.C., but we advocate on legislative issues coming out of every state and work to develop and nurture relationships with state legislators through our State Automotive Enthusiast Leadership Caucus, which now numbers approximately 600 total members from all 50 states. The state legislative successes that have resulted over the years are impressive.

SEMA’s efforts to build and maintain relationships have been strengthened in several ways, including a renewal of our Congressional District Site Visit Program, through which our member companies host members of Congress at their facilities. This program provides the opportunity to build relationships and for our members to demonstrate their importance to the local and national economy—both in terms of jobs and as taxpayers.

These partnerships are also forged through the biannual Washington Rally event. During this year’s event in May, SEMA members attended more than 60 meetings with members of Congress and their staffs to stake our claim to the current legislative agenda.

Our outreach initiatives directly translated into substantial progress—in particular, our efforts to save the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah and protect the Johnson Valley Off-Highway Recreation Area in Southern California. SEMA has taken the lead in protecting these sites of historic and economic value for generations of automotive enthusiasts to come.

This year, SEMA is fighting for a bill in Congress to streamline the regulatory process for manufacturers of low-volume specialty vehicles, such as kit cars and replicas. In addition, and in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling on the universal health care law, SEMA has demanded that lawmakers still address deficiencies that have made it difficult for our members and their workers to afford premiums for quality health care. At the end of the day, we have put ourselves in position to make a difference. We have learned that positive outcomes can be achieved through strength in numbers, by uniting thousands of small businesses and voters across the nation and helping them communicate with their elected officials.

You can take an active part in our growing efforts in several ways. First, you can join the SEMA Political Action Committee (SEMA PAC) to stay up-to-date on all of our efforts in Washington. All you have to do is become “SEMA PAC Approved” by visiting www.SEMApac.com. To stay informed of legislation effecting enthusiasts at the state and federal level, become a part of the SEMA Action Network (SAN). You can sign up at no cost at www.SEMAsan.com. With your participation, these tools help make us a more effective, responsive association.

We hope that you’ll see the benefit to having your company actively involved in the legislative/regulatory issues currently in play and take note of those still on the horizon. As always, we ask that you keep us informed of topics that may ultimately affect your bottom line and the rights of enthusiasts everywhere.

—Chris Kersting, SEMA President and CEO