SEMA News - April 2010

The issues currently facing the United States and all of its industries are among the most important we’ve faced in the nation’s history. If ever there was an alarm sounding for small business in America, it is blaring now. SEMA members need to read this column and become active and aggressive about supporting the lawmakers who support our industry and small businesses across America. Otherwise, we’ll only get what apathy deserves, and that is not acceptable.

The last election cycle ensconced a Congress and White House that continue to overlook a crucial point in the plans for an economic turnaround: it is small businesses supplying most of the jobs in America. Unless small businesses succeed, the needed re-employment, improved consumer confidence and healthy climb out of the current recession will not materialize.

SEMA has important tools to help you individually and as SEMA members make a difference in the battle to keep small businesses from getting crushed by the decisions being made in Washington, D.C. But you have to get active. Look at your weekly SEMA eNews, visit the SEMA website, these resources highlight the legislative issues important to our industry. The SEMA website has all the information you need to contact your member of Congress and the White House. Our Washington staff is also available to help you arrange a meeting with your legislator in your home district or in Washington, D.C. Because so many Americans are apathetic, if you do take initiative and speak up, your voice will matter more than you may think. Legislators are eager to hear what their constituents want.

Another important means to make a difference is to act collectively with your fellow SEMA members. When we join together, when we lend volume to each other, we cannot help but be heard. That is the essence of the SEMA Political Action Committee (PAC).

SEMA PAC is our industry’s means to help the election efforts of legislators who act to support our industry. The seven-year-old SEMA PAC pools its collective resources, giving it a larger cumulative voice on Capitol Hill.

PACs are funded by personal contributions; companies cannot contribute. In fact, SEMA itself is prohibited from using association funds to make political contributions, but it is allowed to fund all administrative costs of running the PAC, so 100% of the contributions you make are used to help elect industry-supportive legislators. The funds we provide and the relationships we build are vital. In this election year, it could mean the difference between re-establishing support for small businesses or allowing the current economic tailspin to continue.

Recent elections in Massachusetts, Virginia and New Jersey have confirmed the electorate’s discontent over the prospects of larger government, uncontrolled deficits and an economy that has been unable to produce jobs. Those who hold office after this November’s elections will hold the ultimate sway on important issues, such as affordable health care, credit availability, environmental issues and budget reform.

Federal election law requires trade associations, such as SEMA, to obtain the prior approval of its members in order to solicit contributions to the PAC. Signing such a form doesn’t obligate you to contribute; it just allows the PAC to contact you. Downloading, signing and submitting the prior-consent form ensures that you will hear updates about what’s happening in Washington, and it is the first step in ensuring that Washington hears from you and your industry colleagues. It is ultimately your private financial contribution to the PAC that gives voice to the industry on Capitol Hill.

As noted, SEMA uses your dues and revenue from the SEMA Show to operate an effective government affairs office in Washington to safeguard the industry on issues and opportunities that are of concern specifically to us. That really is one of the association’s primary jobs. However, so much more can be done with a large number of active, united SEMA members working with the association’s staff.

Now, more than ever, your association and its leaders are calling on you to make your voice heard. SEMA PAC can help. Please visit and submit a prior-approval form today. 

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