SEMA News—August 2011

   Chris Kersting, SEMA President and CEO
One might argue that the single most significant year-round benefit for SEMA members is our ongoing work in government affairs. What’s clear, however, is that having an effective presence on national and state levels has made an important difference for SEMA members and the specialty-equipment industry as a whole. To support this important strategic initiative, SEMA maintains a dedicated and well-connected team in Washington, D.C., working to make member voices heard on regulatory and legislative issues that affect a range of market niches.

As a matter of fact, SEMA now has a greater presence on Capitol Hill than ever before. In 2011, our government affairs team worked directly with more than 150 federal representatives and their staff. SEMA also arranged for lawmakers to visit SEMA member facilities, allowing them to get to know our industry’s men and women firsthand and to see how their products are made and marketed.

Arranging meetings is one thing. Realizing tangible results is another. This year alone, through our connections with lawmakers and regulators, SEMA has been able to secure critical benefits for our members. One example is the recent repeal of the onerous and unnecessary Form 1099 reporting requirements. Other examples include providing access to bank loans, extending R&D tax credits, helping to preserve the right to off-road recreation, preventing the mislabeling of ethanol content in gasoline and providing for the adoption of a U.S. Senate Resolution celebrating Collector Car Appreciation Day. We also fight daily to eliminate unnecessary regulatory burdens, reduce taxes and, above all, provide fiscal certainty on long-term tax and regulatory obligations—issues that impact your bottom line.

The SEMA Political Action Committee (SEMA PAC) is another critical component for maintaining relationships with key lawmakers. SEMA PAC helps us pool our collective resources to help elect pro-industry, pro-business candidates to Congress. PAC funds are generated by personal donations from SEMA members. To get involved, please visit here.

We also continue to increase member clout at the state level, where vehicles are registered and titled and many of our products are regulated. For the past six years, SEMA has partnered with state lawmakers from across the country through the State Automotive Enthusiast Leadership Caucus. Working in state capitals, these legislators are frequently asked to oppose bills that would unfairly restrict vehicle modifications. Many have also proactively sought to protect the hobby by improving existing motor vehicle statutes and creating new programs to expand it. Approximately 515 state legislators from all 50 states are involved in the caucus. Maintaining these relationships has led to a range of important victories, including enactment of street rod and custom vehicle registration and titling laws in 22 states, protection of backyard restoration projects from confiscation, defense of the enthusiast’s right to use more durable aftermarket exhaust systems and lower taxes and fees for hobbyist vehicles.

The SEMA Action Network (SAN) is our primary “grassroots support”connection to the enthusiast community. The SAN is a free partnership of individuals, vehicle clubs and SEMA members in the United States and Canada. It is an increasingly valuable resource that allows us to directly communicate with more than 60,000 members and millions more through print, press and social media. The SAN has a proven track record for achieving legislative successes through its members’ passionate response to action alerts on hundreds of federal and state bills each year. These bills often determine whether it is legal to produce, sell, install and
operate certain aftermarket parts.

So we’ve been successful, but the agenda is lengthy and challenging. Currently, we are working with the SEMA Board of Directors to decide where we need more emphasis and to identify the most promising avenues for our efforts. But we need your participation—let us know about the legislative and regulatory matters of most concern to you. After you read this issue, we hope you’ll have a better understanding of the issues that may affect your business, SEMA’s efforts to make your voices heard, and what you can do to help us all succeed together.

—Chris Kersting, SEMA President and CEO

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