SEMA News—January 2014
FROM THE HILL
By Dan Sadowski
Hoosier State Happenings
Congresswoman Jackie Walorski Visits Truck Accessories Group (TAG)
More than 90 newly elected officials came to Washington last year to serve in the United States Congress. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN) arrived with a keen understanding of how important the automotive specialty-equipment industry is to her home state of Indiana. Before her election, SEMA met several times with Walorski to reinforce the connection between Indiana’s racing heritage and SEMA’s legislative priorities. Having represented a region known for its automotive and recreational vehicle manufacturing in the Indiana state legislature for five years, she was already a strong advocate for SEMA-member companies and knowledgeable about the issues facing the specialty aftermarket industry.
Shortly after Congress convened, she became a member of the SEMA-supported Congressional Automotive Performance and Motorsports Caucus, a bipartisan member organization that pays tribute to the industry. Rep. Walorski and her staff then continued to build a working relationship with SEMA’s government affairs team. As a result, Rep. Walorski welcomed the opportunity to visit Truck Accessories Group (TAG) in Elkhart, a major manufacturing hotbed in her district.
TAG, the parent company of Leer Midwest, produces truck caps, tonneau covers, retractable truck bed covers and aluminum and plastic automotive components. TAG offers automotive solutions from design and engineering to mold making, fabrication, assembly, painting and shipping. As a part of TAG, Leer benefits from extensive engineering, design and mold-making resources and is headquartered in Elkhart. It offers its products through hundreds of independent distributors located in every U.S. state and most Canadian provinces.
SEMA News recently caught up with the Congresswoman Walorski to learn more about her background and why connecting with SEMA members in their home districts is so important to members of Congress.
SEMA News: You served in the Indiana House of Representatives from 2005–2010. How does serving in the U.S. Congress differ from serving in the state legislature?
Rep. Jackie Walorski: My experience in the Indiana State Legislature was incredibly valuable. During orientation week in Congress, I had a much better grasp of legislative procedures and was then able to focus more on getting to know my new colleagues and working on bills. One difference is that we certainly do not spend as much time on the floor of the capitol in Washington, which is a change from the state legislature. In Congress, members tend to pack a lot into a tight schedule, creating less time for debate.
SN: What are your legislative goals for the 113th Congress?
JW: I will continue to focus on working across the aisle with my colleagues to find solutions to create more jobs and strengthen the American economy. As a member of the House Budget Committee, I was proud to support the House plan for balancing the budget in 10 years without raising taxes. I will continue to work on meaningful reforms to incentivize manufacturing, reign in overreaching regulations and create a pro-growth business environment to encourage hiring and expansion.
SN: You recently visited SEMA member Truck Accessories Group in your Indiana district. How do these meetings with local businesses help you serve your constituents? How do the visits benefit the business owner and employees?
JW: The district site visit was very valuable. It provided an opportunity to sit down with SEMA members to hear important updates from the industry and listen to their concerns. The tour of TAG’s production facility also helped me learn more about how products are manufactured in my home community. These visits in my district are critical to maintaining an open dialogue with constituents in order to best represent their needs in Congress. I recently held roundtable discussions with chamber of commerce groups around my entire Congressional district and look forward to hearing more from the business community to ensure Congress is taking steps to cut red tape and keep taxes low. After a similar tour or visit, I encourage business owners to contact my office at any time for information on programs or how I can help their businesses grow.
SN: You serve on the Armed Services and Budget Committees. How does the work of these committees and legislation you have sponsored impact the SEMA membership?
JW: One of our objectives on the Armed Services Committee is to support a strong military and ensure readiness for our troops. This includes providing members of the armed forces with reliable equipment and suitable training facilities. Recently, the committee passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to fund the military in 2014. A proposal from Rep. Paul Cook (R-CA) was included in the larger bill to ensure the future of safe, responsible off-road recreation at Johnson Valley in California. Representatives from SEMA worked with my staff to ensure that we understood what was happening at Johnson Valley and to ensure a reasonable compromise was reached.
SN: Before we conclude, we just have to know: What is your dream car?
JW: The Corvette. As Indiana has a strong racing heritage, my family and I love cars and support the industry. I will continue to work to ensure the automotive aftermarket maintains a strong presence here in the Hoosier state.
The Congressional District Site Visit Program provides the best “home-field advantage” for SEMA members interested in developing relationships with their local lawmakers. For more information or to begin scheduling a site visit, contact SEMA Director of Congressional Affairs Dan Sadowski at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SEMA PAC President’s Club Spotlight: Dave Bowman
Dave Bowman is the president of Dave Bowman Enterprises, which is headquartered in Lutz, Florida. Bowman is a seven-year member of the SEMA PAC President’s Club and is the co-host of the television program “Motorhead Garage,” which airs on Velocity.
“It is very important that our legislators both at the state and national level be able to make informed decisions that impact all aspects of the automotive aftermarket,” Bowman said.
“Since the majority of our industry is made up of small-business enterprises, it is critical that we have a voice in Congress to represent our interests to ensure continued growth of our industry. The SEMA Washington, D.C., staff is vital to protecting our interests. That is why I am a SEMA PAC President’s Club Member.”
For more information on SEMA PAC, contact SEMA PAC Manager Christian Robinson by phone at 202-783-6007 x20 or by e-mail at email@example.com.