ASA Leaders Gather to Discuss Legislative PolicyPosted 6/25/2007
By Robert L. Redding, Jr.
The Automotive Service Association's national leadership gathered in Nashville, Tenn., for its 2007 Annual Convention. A large segment of the meeting involved repair shop owners from around the nation discussing top collision and mechanical legislative and regulatory issues.
State officers, operations committee members, ASA national board members and other ASA leaders were briefed on important state and federal issues for 2007. Leaders also discussed areas of interest for the upcoming 2008 congressional and state legislative sessions.
Both mechanical and collision repairers were pleased to hear of the continued advances made by the National Automotive Service Task Force (NASTF). Collision repairers were informed of the specific collision program changes the NASTF was making to ensure that collision repairers have access to the service information, training and tools they need to be successful. Reports from the Florida legislature during the annual convention indicated Right to Repair legislation was dead in the state of Florida for this year. Shop owners raised concerns about the threat of Right to Repair legislation to the current voluntary system for obtaining service, tool and training information.
Collision repairers discussed the importance of the repeal of the McCarran-Ferguson Act to the collision industry. ASA leaders have worked to get collision repairers from around the country to contact members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate asking that they co-sponsor and support repeal legislation. The Nashville meeting served to obtain additional views for motivating grassroots interest in the McCarran repeal effort.
Several states have introduced legislation that prevents ownership of repair facilities by insurance companies. Coincidentally, oral arguments for the appeal sought by Allstate and Sterling, involving the ASA-supported Texas insurer-owned shop law, were heard in New Orleans the same week of the ASA meetings.
Collision repairers continue to be concerned about the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency automotive refinishing product regulatory process. ASA hosted the EPA team during NACE and the Collision Division Operations Committee has briefed the EPA on the position of independent collision repairers. The EPA team continues to have staff changes but it is predicted that the proposed regulation will be published this year.
Issues for the 2008 legislative season were followed with great interest at the meeting. ASA-Texas' continued effort for state shop licensing was discussed at great length. Many other states are interested in developing a shop licensing model as ASA members did in the state of Texas.
Also important to mechanical repairers is the issue of national emissions inspection and maintenance (I/M). ASA's Governmental Affairs Committee (GAC) had previously met with the U.S. EPA to discuss the future of emissions I/M. ASA noted that the 110th Congress has prioritized action on clean air issues and hopefully, the EPA will renew efforts encouraging the expansion of state I/M programs.
The annual legislative attacks on specific state safety inspection programs were brought up during the meetings. States with safety inspection programs are pleased with the programs and want to keep them. There is interest by some state legislators around the country in establishing new safety inspection programs.
ASA's GAC is an ASA board-appointed advisory committee. The GAC met during the annual convention to prioritize legislative recommendations for the ASA board of directors. Although the GAC has been established only a few years, it has placed great emphasis on the importance of grassroots activity in both state and federal matters. ASA's Taking the Hill legislative Web site regularly signs up new participants for hot issues. The site provides letters on important state and federal issues for shop owners to use with policymakers. This past year, ASA members used the site for multiple issues, including opposition to California's expansion of warranties, state licensing initiatives and to support the repeal of the McCarran-Ferguson Act in the U.S. Congress.
ASA has dedicated important resources to educating members about issues and helping them make their voices heard. Clearly, the message from members around the country is that their interest level in the legislative process is growing. Unfortunately, many state efforts are inhibited by lack of resources.
As in past meetings, ASA leaders do not lack a list of important issues but have to weigh the available resources with industry priorities.
Repairers can learn more about issues in their states and in the U.S. Congress by going to www.TakingTheHill.com.
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