If You Aren’t at the Table, You Might Be on the Menu

SEMA News—August 2019

If You Aren’t at the Table, You Might Be on the Menu

Chris Kersting

Chris Kersting

One of SEMA’s key services is to protect the industry and enthusiasts from unreasonable state and federal regulation. SEMA maintains a team of government affairs experts in Washington, D.C. While SEMA’s D.C. team is our industry’s first line of defense, it’s actually you, the SEMA members, who are the greatest force in our legislative arsenal. And as the headline above notes, if you’re not in the hunt, there’s a good chance you’ll be in the crosshairs.

In the February issue of SEMA News, I offered a brief update on SEMA’s key legislative and regulatory initiatives from the previous year. In this issue, you’ll find a more complete rundown on important issues affecting our industry and enthusiasts, ranging from our effort to ensure that street vehicles can legally be converted into dedicated race cars, to import tariffs, to efforts to simplify the emissions compliance process. In each of these initiatives, the key factor in SEMA’s advocacy has been member engagement. However, we can be more effective—and that starts with each of us doing our part to help.

One important way you can have a positive impact is through the SEMA Political Action Committee (SEMA PAC). At its very core, the PAC exists so that our industry can collectively pool our personal resources to help elect business-friendly lawmakers. By law, SEMA itself is prohibited from using its funds to contribute, which makes the role of the PAC all the more important. No matter the size of your donation, I encourage each of you to support the PAC. To learn more and get started, simply visit www.semapac.com. While SEMA PAC has a good core of contributors, we are far from having the level of support this industry could generate, so take a moment and do something to help the future of your business and
our industry.

While many associate “politics” with what happens in Washington, D.C., the reality is that many of the laws impacting our businesses and enthusiasts are enacted at the state level. Another tool SEMA has built is the SEMA Action Network (SAN), which is a nationwide partnership of car clubs, enthusiasts and industry members who are dedicated to protecting their passion at the state and federal levels.

In the two decades since the SAN was formed, it has successfully made its voice heard—and swayed the vote—on a wide range of issues, including vehicle scrappage (“clunker”) laws, equipment standards, registration classifications, emissions-test exemptions and hobbyist rights. If you’re not already a member, you may join for free at www.semasan.com and help us spread the word by promoting the SAN across your business’s social-media channels. Like the PAC, the SAN is powerful, but it could be much more powerful if we enlist more of the great mass of car and truck enthusiasts across the nation.

Which brings me to one more tool for your attention and participation: the SEMA Washington Rally. Held for the first time in 1996, the Rally is an opportunity for SEMA members to bring the fight directly to your legislators in our nation’s capital. This biennial event includes face-to-face meetings with lawmakers on Capitol Hill, industry discussions on policies and priorities, and briefings that help our members understand how to increase their effectiveness influencing lawmakers. Believe this: Members of Congress want to hear directly from you, their constituents. The face-to-face meetings can be the start of strong relationships that have an impact. But you have to show up to make it happen.

Plans are already underway for next year’s Rally, which will take place on May 13. I hope to see you in our nation’s capital next spring!

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