California SEMA members converged on the state capitol in Sacramento to help educate state lawmakers on the importance of the $36.7 billion automotive specialty-equipment industry to the state economy and the impact of government initiatives on the industry's continued viability. The association's first-ever state legislative rally on May 23rd featured SEMA members and California state lawmakers meeting face-to-face on significant state issues, including the governor's proposed universal health-care plan, emissions standards, vehicle scrappage, titling and registration and off-road land access.
"SEMA has been engaged over the years with the California Legislature on a series of industry-specific issues and a range of business concerns impacting the health of the state's specialty-equipment industry," said Steve McDonald, SEMA's vice president of government affairs. "Our successes in Sacramento would not have been possible without the relationships we have developed with California legislators over the years. By including California SEMA members in these efforts, the Sacramento Legislative Rally helped further increase awareness of our industry by state legislators and signal SEMA's intention to increase its contribution to the debate on significant state issues."
The SEMA Sacramento Legislative Rally agenda included a breakfast briefing by SEMA government affairs personnel, meetings with lawmakers, regulators and the governor's key staff, in addition to an evening reception. SEMA members were briefed on critical issues by, among others, Governor Schwarzenegger's Deputy Chief of Staff Cynthia Bryant, State Small Business Advocate Marty Keller, Assembly Transportation Committee Chairman Pedro Nava, Assembly Minority Floor Leader Mike Villines, Labor Commissioner Bob Jones and Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board Officer Keith Umemoto.
During the Rally, State Senators Ron Calderon and Dick Ackerman and State Assembly Members Martin Garrick and Nicole Parra joined the State Automotive Enthusiast Leadership Caucus. Supported by the SEMA Government Affairs office, the caucus is a bipartisan group of state lawmakers whose common thread is a love and appreciation for automobiles. Working in state capitals around the country, caucus members have sought to preserve and protect the automotive hobby by seeking the amendment of existing motor-vehicle statutes and creating new programs to safeguard and expand the hobby. These legislators join Senators Dennis Hollingsworth, Tom McClintock, Gloria Negrete McLeod and Assembly Members Mike Duvall, Bonnie Garcia, Bob Huff, Kevin Jeffries, Doug La Malfa, Alberto Torrico and Michael Villines as California members of the caucus. For a full caucus listing in all 50 states, please click here.
SEMA Member Comments:
Joel Ayres, Leer: "Fantastic job by the SEMA staff. I feel it was a good start to building relationships with the California legislators. The speakers were interesting and informative. By Wednesday night, many additional people in the Sacramento Capitol knew about SEMA and what our industry was doing for California. I feel the next event in Sacramento will be even bigger."
Ken Yoder, RCD Suspension: "This was a great experience. I was able to talk to the assembly member and senator for the area that my facility is located in. We discussed several issues including worker compensation costs, the health-care plan that the governor has proposed and land-use issues. I was very impressed with the quality and enthusiasm of the lawmakers and regulators that spoke to us at the briefings. Every SEMA member should be involved in this type of an event."
Doug Evans, Primedia: "I would like to congratulate the SEMA staff on a job well done with the Sacramento Rally. I found the meetings and presentations informative and extremely important. I would urge my fellow SEMA members to get involved in this event in the future as well as the Washington, D.C. rally. California in particular is looking at many pieces of legislation that could be disastrous to our industry. We must be united in our efforts to ensure that any legislation passed recognizes the importance of our livelihood and the thousands of jobs that could be adversely affected by poorly crafted bills that do not have our input."
Debbie Lewis, "Hotrod & Restoration": "The Sacramento Legislative Rally was a great experience. It was well-planned and well-executed by our Washington, D.C., SEMA office. SEMA provided materials prior to the rally, making it easier for participants to be prepared and, in my case have a clearer understanding of our purpose and mission, and how the process works. I met with Senator Dick Ackerman and we signed him up to be part of the State Automotive Enthusiast Leadership Caucus. It was very encouraging to learn firsthand that all we had to do was ask. I look forward to participating in future rallies and carrying the flag to encourage others to do the same."
Ernie Silvers, Egge Machine Co. Inc.: "All I can say is WOW! The Sacramento Rally had all the power and magic of its big brother, SEMA's DC Rally. Much like a well-organized surgical strike team, SEMA staff was flawless in its ability to arrange and attend multiple meetings with SEMA members and their respective lawmakers. My local assemblyman and senator were both eager to learn more about issues that concern my company, the restoration industry and SEMA. It was productive and time very well spent!"