There's a Lot Going on at State, Federal Levels
ASA members can make difference; Cash for clunkers, climate change, motor vehicle inspection safety among many automotive-related priorities facing Congress.
With less than a month under Congress' belt for legislative action, independent automotive repairers are already seeing an active 111th Congress. States, too, are fully engaged in regulatory and legislative initiatives impacting Automotive Service Association (ASA) members.
This article will offer a sampling of 2009 legislative and regulatory activity at the federal and state levels that affects our industry. First, let's take a look at the Congress.
The economic stimulus package has been President Barack Obama's top priority for the new Congress. Democratic House leaders moved quickly to establish stimulus legislation that would move on the House floor. Despite hearings and legislative offerings, cash for clunkers provisions were not included in the House bill. ASA had asked Congress to include a repair option if cash for clunkers legislation were part of the stimulus legislation.
U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, did place his cash for clunkers amendment on the list of amendments to be considered on the floor for the Senate stimulus legislation. Harkin's amendment tied the cash for clunkers to fuel efficiency. ASA did not support Harkin's amendment because it did not include a repair option. Texas and California cash for clunkers programs have repair provisions that both ASA and the National Automobile Dealers Association have encouraged Congress to review. Harkin briefly discussed the amendment on the floor but withdrew it prior to consideration.
The Senate stimulus legislation does include incentives for new car purchases. ASA collision members have shown an interest in these provisions. Specifically, insurers are less likely to total new vehicles after an accident than older vehicles. The legislation, as of this writing, includes language offered by Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., that will provide a tax credit up to $1,500 for the purchase of an American-manufactured vehicle.
Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, has outlined a climate change policy process that will guide the committee this year. This will also be a top priority for the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Please note that a draft bill offered last year by Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., then chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, contained a cash for clunkers program. Additional research monies for new engine and fuel technologies will most certainly be included as Congress not only moves on a climate change bill but also on new energy policy.
ASA was pleased to see House Resolution 259 introduced by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas. The bill moves periodic motor vehicle safety inspection back into the national scene. Although at one point the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had authority over the structure of state safety inspection programs, H.R. 259 will again tie state inspection programs to federal highway funds.
The states have not been silent as many have already kicked off their opening sessions. There is some confusion in Massachusetts with multiple right to repair bills introduced: Massachusetts House Bills 1418 and 1821. Contrary to past sessions where only one right to repair bill was introduced in Massachusetts, it appears that organizations have now gone their separate ways and are supporting different right to repair bills. No hearing dates have been established.
The Florida legislature will have a chance to review the Florida Department of Environmental Protection's (DEP) new Clean Car Program. The program to help cure the greenhouse gas (GHG) problem is modeled after California's program. ASA members in Florida opposed including super warranty provisions in the Florida DEP draft. The current proposed regulation does not include a super warranty provision. The Florida legislature will have an opportunity to review the regulation once its session begins.
Of interest to collision repairers is an anti-steering regulation proposed by the California Department of Insurance. The department will hold a public hearing to provide all interested parties the opportunity to present comments with respect to a new regulation on Insurer Recommendations of Automotive Repair Dealers. The purpose of the new regulation will be to provide guidance and specificity to insurers with respect to the nature and degree of involvement they may have in a consumer's choice of an automotive repair dealer.
The proposed regulation states, "Except when a referral is expressly requested by the claimant, after a claimant has chosen an automotive repair dealer, the insurer shall not suggest or recommend that the claimant select a different automotive repair dealer." The proposal continues to define the consumer-insurer relationship: "a claimant has chosen an automotive repair dealer when the claimant has specified to the insurer a specific automotive repair dealer ..." The regulation, if approved, also defines what it determines "suggest or recommend" includes as far as insurer actions.
As you can see, there is a lot happening at the federal and state levels important to independent automotive repairers. Most importantly, repairers can make a difference if they are informed and take advantage of advocacy opportunities provided by ASA. ASA's legislative Web site, TakingtheHill.com, provides a mechanism to communicate important issues but also offers an advocacy tool; ASA members can convey their position on an issue to state legislators, members of Congress and regulators. To take advantage of the options available on ASA's legislative Web site, please go to www.TakingTheHill.com. It's easy to use and lets the independent automotive repairer's voice be heard on Capitol Hill and in all 50 states.
AutoInc. Web Site |
ASA Web Site |
There's a Lot Going on at State, Federal Levels |
The Value of ASA Membership |
The Multigenerational Workplace |
What Would You Do? |
Management Education, Industry Impact Sessions Highlight 2009 Annual Convention |
Tech to Tech |
Tech Tips |
News Briefs |
Taking the Hill |
Around ASA |
Net Worth |
Stat Corner |
Copyright (c) 1996-2011. Automotive Service AssociationŽ. All rights reserved.