How ASA Formulates Legislative Policy PositionsPosted 12/11/2007
By Robert L. Redding, Jr.
The Automotive Service Association has an inclusive, democratic process for developing state and federal regulatory and legislative policy. After decades of policy development, ASA members enjoy a process that allows for the review and exchange of ideas with democratically elected volunteers.
ASA's board of directors is comprised of mechanical and collision shop representatives. All board members represent repair facilities. There are no insurer, paint, parts company or other non-repair facility representatives on the board of directors. This is a critical aspect of the legislative policy process. Volunteer leaders who are directly involved in the legislative process are appointed by a democratically elected board. Only ASA members may vote in the ASA board of directors elections. Repairers should demand this form of governance of any repair organization with which they choose to align their businesses.
ASA has board-appointed Collision and Mechanical Operations Committees. These committees serve in an advisory role for the board of directors. This allows the board to reach out to various parts of the country and ensure balance in the size and type of repair facilities providing policy input. All of these entities receive ASA staff support.
Policy ideas are processed through the operations committees. The committees hold regular conference calls, as well as meetings, and have break-out subcommittees for major industry issues. Dialogue on top industry issues is encouraged by ASA via face-to-face meetings, conference calls and electronic communication. Legislative and regulatory issues that are prioritized by the division operations committees are forwarded to ASA's board-appointed Government Affairs Committee (GAC).
The GAC is comprised of ASA board representatives, an elected Affiliate Assembly representative and operations committee representatives. The GAC addresses key legislative and regulatory issues for independent repairers. It makes policy recommendations directly to the ASA board of directors. It also convenes on a regular basis, depending on priority issues and the activity level for those specific issues.
Each year, the GAC reviews state and federal legislative policy objectives. These policy recommendations are presented to the ASA board of directors for approval at the fall board meeting. These annually approved objectives are public documents available for members to review. They determine the policy guidelines for the GAC and ASA staff to adhere to during the course of each year. The GAC is actively engaged in pursuing priorities throughout the legislative year.
How do I, as an ASA member, have input in the policy process?
Any ASA member can request that the operations committees consider a legislative or regulatory issue. To do so, a member should contact the ASA national office. The contact information can be found on the ASA Web site, www.ASAshop.org.
Mechanical and Collision Division staffers work with members of both operations committees on policy concepts. Each division committee is comprised of approximately 11 business owners from around the country. ASA members will find that these committee volunteers represent all sizes of shops in all regions of the country. These volunteer leaders are listed on the ASA Web site.
The operations committees review policy ideas and make recommendations to the GAC. The GAC determines whether ASA board-approved policies include the pursuit of the operations committee recommendations or whether the board must take action prior to the pursuit of a particular issue.
What tools does ASA provide members to pursue policy goals?
ASA makes available - not only to its members, but to vehicle owners and nonmembers - a legislative Web site, www.TakingTheHill.com. This Web site tracks issues important to ASA and provides an opportunity for repairers and consumers to contact their state and federal policymakers on specific issues. For example, ASA members provided a large number of comments for a recent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) auto refinishing regulation, which was noted by the EPA at the Collision Industry Conference meeting during the International Autobody Congress and Exposition (NACE) 2007. ASA members also provided the largest number of comments on a proposed warranty initiative in the state of California. The TakingTheHill. com Web site assisted members in making these formal regulatory comments.
ASA also has a Washington, D.C., office charged with monitoring legislation and regulations and serving as an advocate on issues prioritized by the ASA board of directors.
The Washington, D.C., office provides legislative alerts to members and media information on issues of concern.
Most important is that ASA policies begin at the grassroots member level and are reviewed by ASA shop owner volunteer leaders selected by a democratically elected board of directors. How many other automotive repair organizations provide their members with such a direct involvement in the policy process? How many other repair organizations ensure that decisions are made by shop owners for shop owners?
ASA is an association for independent repairers with policy developed by democratically elected independent repairers. The policy objectives are made available on ASA's Web sites for public review.
To make a difference, ASA members are encouraged to attend the board of directors meeting each year at the ASA annual convention. The next annual convention will be held May 1-3, 2008, in Santa Clara, Calif.
Look for the 2008 state and federal legislative policy objectives in the January 2008 issue of AutoInc.
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