Law & Order

SEMA Presents Lawmaker of the Year Award to California Senator Anthony Portantino

By the SEMA Washington, D.C., office

During the 2023 SEMA Show, SEMA presented its Stephen B. McDonaldSEMA Lawmaker of the Year Lawmaker of the Year Award to California State Senator Anthony Portantino for his work on SB 301, the "Zero-Emissions Aftermarket Conversion Project."

SB 301 is a groundbreaking bill, which currently awaits a final vote by the Assembly, that would create new opportunities for SEMA members and provide financial assistance to Californians to convert their gasoline-powered vehicles to zero-emissions vehicles (ZEVs).  

California has multiple programs to promote the purchase of new ZEVs, but none assist with ZEV conversions of gas-powered vehicles. SB 301 would fill this gap, making it more affordable for Californians to convert their existing vehicles to ZEVs. 

SB 301 has won the backing of business and environmental groups alike. The California Manufacturing and Technology Association (CMTA), the Los Angeles Business Federation (LA BizFed), the California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce, BREATHE California and CALSTART have all endorsed the bill. The California Chamber of Commerce (CalChamber) has also labeled SB 301 as a "Job Creator." 

During a tour of the 2023 SEMA Show, California Senator Anthony Portantino was interviewed by the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA), the top drag racing sanctioning body that is based in his district. During the conversation, he touched upon a crucial aspect of technological advancement: the role of policymakers in fostering innovation. Senator Portantino emphasized that instead of favoring specific technologies, policymakers should focus on creating a level playing field where diverse innovations can flourish.

"We as policymakers sometimes get pushed between what technology we should embrace," he stated, "and I think one of the things that I'm walking away from here (the 2023 SEMA Show) is that we shouldn't be picking the winners, we should be helping all of them compete against each other."

This approach, Portantino believes, will lead to a more dynamic and inclusive technological landscape, where the best ideas have the opportunity to thrive. 

"Senator Portantino is a true champion for SEMA members and the aftermarket industry," said Christian Robinson, senior director of state government affairs and grassroots at SEMA. "He understands the importance of the aftermarket industry to California's economy and the role that SEMA members play in developing new technologies to reduce emissions and make vehicles more fun to drive." 

"SB 301 is a groundbreaking bill that would create new opportunities for SEMA members," Robinson continued. "The bill would create new demand for aftermarket parts and services, and SEMA members would be well-positioned to meet that demand." 

SEMA supports all of the above vehicle technology approaches, including the aftermarket expansion for ZEVs. SEMA opposes the government choosing winners and losers in the marketplace, including California's 2035 ban on new gas- and diesel-powered cars and trucks. SEMA believes that Californians and their families should be able to choose what type of vehicle is best suited for their needs. 

Senator Anthony Portantino represents California's 25th State Senate District, which stretches along the 210 Freeway from Sunland/Tujunga to Upland. Senator Portantino currently serves as the chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Before his years in the legislature, he worked in film and television production, served on the California Film Commission, and spent nearly eight years on the La Cañada Flintridge City Council, with two terms as mayor. 

Senator Portantino grew up in New Jersey, where he attended public schools and graduated from Albright College in Reading, Pennsylvania, where he met his future wife, Ellen, a longtime business executive at Warner Brothers and Disney. They have two daughters. 

For more information, contact Christian Robinson at