LEGISLATIVE AND TECHNICAL AFFAIRS
By Steve McDonald
Government in Your Garage...and It’s a Good Thing
Members of the State Automotive Enthusiast Leadership Caucus gather at the 2014 SEMA Show to discuss pro-industry legislative efforts.
With More Than 700 members, State Legislative Caucus Continues to Thrive
In its daily efforts to promote and protect the auto hobby, SEMA continues to partner with state lawmakers from across the country through the State Automotive Enthusiast Leadership Caucus. Celebrating its tenth anniversary, the caucus is a bipartisan group of state lawmakers whose common thread is a love and appreciation for automobiles.
Supported by SEMA’s government affairs office in Washington, D.C., the caucus has been instrumental in raising the motor-vehicle hobby and specialty-equipment industry’s profile in state legislatures and in the public’s eyes. Working in state capitals, these legislators are frequently called upon to oppose overly restrictive legislation that seeks to prohibit vehicle modification. It proactively protects the hobby by improving existing motor-vehicle statutes and creating new programs to safeguard and expand it.
Among other things, state caucus members have been responsible for legislation to provide titling and registration for custom cars and street rods, remove the tax burden on collector-car owners, implement an objective exhaust-noise testing program, create emissions exemptions, allow single rear license plates and abolish ethanol requirements in gasoline.
As a SEMA member and owner of Howell Automotive in Keyser, West Virginia, Gary Howell joined the caucus in 2011 upon his election to the West Virginia House of Delegates.
“We are the people who write and pass laws for our individual states,” said West Virginia Delegate Gary Howell, the caucus chairman. “Because many of the laws that govern how we title, register, inspect and equip our vehicles are handled at the state level, these state legislatures wield a lot of power over the hobby. That includes modifications you can do to your car or truck. Fortunately, there are a lot of state legislators who are fans of cars themselves—many of whom are members of the State Automotive Enthusiast Leadership Caucus. We want to protect your right to work on and modify your ride.”
For a full listing of State Automotive Enthusiast Leadership Caucus members, visit www.semasan.com.
As a SEMA member and owner of Howell Automotive in Keyser, West Virginia, Howell joined the caucus in 2011 upon his election to the West Virginia House of Delegates. He has worked extensively in the motorsports industry, racing both stock cars and drag cars. He has built winning race cars and award-winning show cars and designed racing parts. He was preceded as caucus chairman by former Montana Senator John Brueggeman and former New York Assemblyman Bill Reilich.
“Delegate Howell is not alone,” said SEMA Vice President of Government Affairs Steve McDonald. “By joining the caucus, lawmakers from all around the country have demonstrated their commitment to upholding the rights of vehicle enthusiasts. In addition, hobbyists and industry members are able to quickly identify which state legislators have chosen to be recognized for their support of this great American hobby. We are extremely proud that the caucus has continued to grow in numbers and influence in each of its 10 years in existence.”
Approximately 700 state legislators from all 50 states are involved in the caucus. For a full listing of caucus members, visit www.semasan.com.