Make a Difference: Meet With Your Elected Representatives
In this issue of SEMA News, you’ll find a number of articles making clear that our industry needs to be aware and more involved when it comes to laws and government regulation. Whether over safety or environmental concerns, land-use policy or small-business regulations, our industry has a great deal at stake. Trade associations such as SEMA unite our industry’s individual voices and resources to have a meaningful impact. But we can only achieve results if we have you involved—and a great first step is to learn more about the issues and the legislators in your neck of the woods. Then arrange for a visit—with hands-on help from the SEMA team.
Do you doubt that you can pull off a visit and make a difference? After years of experience with state and federal lawmakers, I promise that you can. Why? Because it’s mainly ordinary people who make the laws, and they live in your neighborhood. They depend on people like you to vote and contribute to their efforts to get elected.
It surprises most folks to hear this, but your legislative representatives want to get to know you, and they want to know what is important to you—especially when it involves local jobs and economic growth. Granted, not every lawmaker shares all of your views. But you can often find common support for matters that involve the local job base. And if you don’t like the status quo, you can get to know and support prospective candidates who do share more of your views.
You can get good information about your state and federal lawmakers with a few keystrokes on your computer or smartphone. It wasn’t always so easy, so take advantage of the information available today. Concerning our specialty automotive industry, SEMA has easy-to-find information about the legislative and regulatory issues affecting our industry and about legislators who support us.
Current hot issues SEMA is working to support include renewal of the research-and-development tax credit (a great benefit to many SEMA members); SEMA’s own bill in Congress for more reasonable safety and emissions requirements for manufacturers making specialty vehicles in small volumes; and legislation to beef up protections against patent and trademark violators. As you’ll see on the pages that follow, the list goes on.
Once you have a basic sense of who your representatives are and some of the important business issues pending, it’s surprisingly easy to arrange a visit. August presents a great opportunity because Congress ordinarily takes the month off and legislators spend time in their home districts. Otherwise, legislators are back home periodically every month and are glad to meet with constituents. The SEMA government affairs team has developed the Congressional District Site Visit Program to handle all the arrangements. Dozens of SEMA-member companies have taken advantage of this unique program in the last few years, and you can join their ranks.
The local visits are coordinated entirely by SEMA staff, including informative plant tours, meetings with industry leaders and business roundtable discussions that put our members face to face with their federal decision makers in a familiar setting. These meetings are invaluable opportunities to share your company’s impact on the local economy and to discuss the industry’s important issues. Most events take only one or two hours, but the results are invaluable.
To learn more about the Congressional District Site Visit Program and begin planning your event in the coming year, please contact Stuart Gosswein, senior director of federal government affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org. We all share the sense that we need to change things in Washington and support the future of our industry. We hope you’ll become a factor for change. SEMA stands ready to help you do it!