ASA Leaders Take Independents' Message to Capitol Hill
Independent repairers meet with the new 112th Congress.
The Automotive Service Association hosted a Capitol Hill fly-in May 11 for ASA members in Washington, D.C. Meetings were held with members of Congress and congressional office and committee staffers as well as with members of the Obama administration.
With almost 100 new U.S. House members and nearly 20 new members of the U.S. Senate, ASA believes it is critical for independent automotive repairers to introduce themselves to the new Congress and let them know how important our businesses are to their districts and states.
ASA leaders covered a number of issues of importance to mechanical and collision repairers, including requests for Congress to:
• Provide incentives for state periodic motor vehicle safety inspection programs as well as a national study on vehicle safety inspection programs
• Support the enforcement of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) auto refinishing regulation
• Support independent repairers having input in the upcoming Federal Insurance Office's report on insurance regulation
• Support vehicle disclosure legislation
ASA has been concerned about the attacks in several states on periodic motor vehicle safety inspection programs - including initiatives in New Jersey, the District of Columbia, Missouri, North Carolina and Hawaii. With less than half the states having safety inspection programs, the number of state programs continues to decline.
Key issues in many states are the lack of data to ensure the value of programs and the costs of the programs. Both Missouri and Pennsylvania have provided studies to policymakers demonstrating the value of safety inspection with regard to reducing accidents, injuries and deaths. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has not produced an analysis of these state programs despite encouragement from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the industry. ASA also asked Congress to consider incentives to states to establish or enhance safety inspection programs in upcoming transportation legislation.
ASA collision leaders met with top U.S. EPA officials to discuss the latest EPA automotive refinishing program regulation. Leaders discussed concerns about specific state and EPA enforcement of the regulation. In addition, ASA highlighted its opposition to the rule exemption for coatings applied from a "hand-held device with a paint cup capacity that is equal to or less than 3.0 fluid ounces."
ASA will continue to work with federal and state regulators to ensure repairers' views are known to automotive refinishing regulation enforcement authorities. ASA worked with the EPA in the early stages of rule development with multiple meetings, demonstrations and training sessions at NACE.
Included in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act were specific provisions sought by ASA. These included a study by the U.S. Treasury Department's new Federal Insurance Office on how to modernize and improve the system of insurance regulation in the United States. Some organizations are trying to repeal the language in the Dodd-Frank law requiring the study. ASA asked members of Congress and the Treasury Department to move forward with the study and allow input by collision repairers.
U.S. Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, has introduced H.R. 164, the "Damaged Vehicle Information Act," directing the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to require greater disclosure of information relating to the market value and safety of damaged motor vehicles.
ASA supports vehicle disclosure and encouraged members of Congress, in meetings, to co-sponsor H.R.164. ASA also asked that Congress consider requiring that consumers receive written disclosure at the time of the collision repair about the types of crash parts used in the repair. In addition, the vehicle owner should consent, in writing prior to the repair, to the use of replacement crash parts.
Repairers stressed the importance of funding vocational education programs and found that members of Congress were interested in the value of these programs to small businesses.
With the Right to Repair legislation, H.R. 1449, introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, ASA members stressed that the legislation was not needed and how the marketplace, with third-party information providers and automaker websites - as well as the current National Automotive Service Task Force - was doing an excellent job of ensuring independent repairers have the information necessary for their businesses. ASA encouraged members of Congress not to legislate more federal regulatory intrusion for small businesses.
ASA was pleased with the reception by members of Congress and looks forward to future Capitol Hill fly-ins. To view more about the 2011 event, please go to ASA's legislative website, www.TakingTheHill.com.
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