SEMA News - May 2010 

SEMA Provides Legislative Advocacy for the Industry


Representative John Campbell of California (left) discusses industry issues with Hillbank Motor Corp. President Lance Stander in his home district as part of the SEMA-sponsored Congressional Site Visit program.  

The laws and regulations that govern how SEMA members do business have an increased and growing impact on the way automotive specialty-equipment products are made, distributed and marketed. SEMA has a proven legislative and regulatory program led by a full-time professional staff based in Washington, D.C., that continually works on behalf of the membership. The program includes a number of components that together have resulted in a long list of successes of significant benefit to the industry. 

“Our members work hard to develop their products and run their businesses,” said Steve McDonald, SEMA vice president of government affairs. “In turn, our office works hard to help them thrive in the marketplace. As the nation and our industry struggle with a challenging economic recovery, our charge is to stay on top of every relevant state and federal matter of consequence to our membership to ensure the best possible outcome.”

McDonald heads up the SEMA office in Washington, D.C., where he and a team of experts track and analyze legislation and regulations, both state and federal, and then advocate positions to public officials on behalf of member companies. In addition to opposing bills that would potentially harm the automotive hobby or hinder SEMA-member companies, the staff proactively pursues opportunities to enact pro-industry initiatives.

State Legislation: SEMA staff works with state legislators to overhaul existing statutes and create brand-new programs that safeguard and expand the specialty-equipment aftermarket. Over the years, the state legislative program has brought
a series of significant legislative and regulatory accomplishments for the industry and the vehicle enthusiast community on issues ranging from equipment standards to registration and titling classifications to emissions-test exemptions to hobbyist rights.

State Caucus: 2010 marks the fifth anniversary of the founding of the State Automotive Enthusiast Leadership Caucus, a bipartisan group of state lawmakers with a passion for automobiles. In its daily efforts to promote and protect the auto hobby, SEMA partners with caucus members from across the country to raise the motor-vehicle hobby’s profile in state legislatures and in the public’s eyes. Approximately 400 state legislators from all 50 states are involved in the caucus.

Federal Legislation: SEMA is involved in a wide variety of issues on Capitol Hill that impact the industry, from regulatory reform to intellectual property protection and health-care coverage. Other legislative priorities include tackling energy and environmental issues in a fashion that takes jobs, safety, consumer choice and technology into consideration. SEMA also continues to pursue tax relief on measures that spur economic growth along with permanent renewal of the research and development tax credit.

Federal Agencies: On the regulatory front, the government affairs office works with a number of agencies that have jurisdiction over the marketing of automotive equipment. These include the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Trade Commission, among others. Topics range from regulations governing tire-pressure monitoring systems, roof crush, side impact, electronic stability control and hazardous air pollutants during auto painting operations to deceptive marketing practices.


California Assemblymember Tony Mendoza (second from right) and Montana State Senator John Brueggeman (right) were given a tour of Egge Machine Co. by president Bob Egge (second from left).  

SEMA Action Network: Another component of the SEMA legislative program involves working with dedicated automotive enthusiasts. The SEMA Action Network (SAN) is a partnership of vehicle clubs and enthusiasts who unite to protect their hobby. With the support of 4,500-plus car clubs, more than 39,000 individual contacts and 150-plus publications, the SAN has an estimated reach of 36 million enthusiasts in the United States and Canada. These members have been extremely effective in amplifying SEMA’s political voice on issues affecting the specialty-equipment auto-parts industry.

Congressional Caucus: Founded in 1996, the 100th year of the automobile, the Congressional Automotive Performance and Motorsports Caucus is the federal equivalent of SEMA’s state caucus. As a coalition of lawmakers who love cars and recognize the importance of the industry to America, these members of Congress help raise the profile of the automotive specialty-equipment industry in Washington and around the country.

Political Action Committee: The SEMA Political Action Committee (PAC) is a vital component of the SEMA legislative program. Established in 2003, SEMA PAC helps support candidates for Congress on both sides of the aisle who support our industry. Through SEMA PAC, individual SEMA members can pool their resources to give the industry a larger cumulative voice on Capitol Hill.

Congressional Visits: SEMA’s Congressional Visits Program can produce long-term relationships. Under the initiative, SEMA’s Congressional relations staff facilitates meetings with a U.S. representative or senator at a SEMA-member facility. Other SEMA members in that district are invited to participate in roundtable discussions on topics of interest to the individual companies and the industry.

Get Involved: While the various components of the SEMA government affairs program have resulted in great success for the industry, it is essential that all SEMA-member companies and their employees be involved as well. You can stay current on the latest laws and regulations affecting the automotive aftermarket industry by visiting and clicking on the “Government Affairs” link. Contacting your lawmaker about bills in your state legislature or in the U.S. Congress is vital to our success. Lawmakers really do listen to their constituents—so does the SEMA government affairs staff. For more information, contact Steve McDonald at 202/783-6007.  



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