SEMA Members Rally in Washington to Support the RPM Act

SEMA News—July 2016


By Eric Snyder

SEMA Members Rally in Washington to Support the RPM Act

  SEMA Washington Rally
Rick Love of Vintage Air (left) and SEMA President and CEO Chris Kersting (right) met with RPM Act co-sponsor U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) during the 2016 SEMA Washington Rally.

More than 90 SEMA members and staff from across the United States traveled to Washington, D.C., on May 11 as part of the 2016 SEMA Washington Rally. Attendees focused much of their advocacy efforts on the Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports (RPM) Act, urging their members of Congress to demonstrate support for the motorsports industry by co-sponsoring the bill. These efforts were not only well received but also produced immediate results. Within days of the visit, several members of Congress agreed to co-sponsor the RPM Act as a result of the meetings they had with SEMA members.

Introduced by U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) in the House and U.S. Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) in the Senate, the RPM Act makes clear that it’s always been legal to convert a street vehicle into a race car for use solely at the track. In their meetings, rally participants also emphasized the need for Congress to support pro-growth tax policies, reasonable access to public lands, and legislation that reduces regulatory burdens on small business. With so much at stake, the 2016 Washington Rally saw the highest SEMA-member participation in its 20-year history.

“I chose to attend the SEMA Washington Rally because it’s never been more important to get our elected officials familiar with SEMA and supporting the RPM Act,” said Nick Gramelspacher, vice president of sales and marketing for Meyer Distributing. “It was an honor and a pleasure to represent more than 100 of Indiana’s SEMA-member companies in Washington, D.C.”

Between meetings, SEMA members took a break for lunch at the prestigious Capitol Hill Club and participated in a town hall, where they were able to ask key members of Congress about issues that impact their companies, including the EPA’s stance on street-car-to-race-car modifications. The panel included RPM Act lead sponsor McHenry; Mike Kelly (R-PA), a car dealer and co-chair of the House Auto Caucus; Paul Cook (R-CA), a former Marine Corps colonel and leader in defending the off-road industry; and Bill Posey (R-FL), a racer and longtime co-chair of the Congressional Automotive Performance and Motorsports Caucus. During the town hall, congressional panelists answered questions from SEMA members and offered their thoughts on what business owners can do to ensure that their voices are heard by their elected officials.

“This year’s SEMA Washington Rally was critical because we have so much on the line with the current threat to our industry by the recent actions of the EPA,” said Dan Kahn, president of Kahn Media Inc. “The opportunity to sit down with members of Congress on Capitol Hill, explain the RPM Act and how it will impact job creation and American manufacturing was an exciting experience.”

“The SEMA Washington Rally is a great opportunity,” said Tray Smith, vice president at H&H Classic Parts. “The Rally gives average small businesses access to their representatives in Congress and the Senate and allows them to have a real effect on policy. Additionally, it allows members of Congress to understand how their decisions affect small businesses.”

The rally concluded with a reception and dinner, which celebrated the Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act, a 2015 SEMA-supported law that permits manufacturers to produce completed replica vehicles under a simplified regulatory system. The event honored bill sponsors Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) and Rep. Gene Green (D-TX), who spoke about the importance of the bill and what motivated them to take the lead in getting it passed through Congress and enacted into law.

Gene Green   Steve Womack   Pete Aguilar
U.S. Representative Gene Green (D-TX) addressed the 2016 SEMA Washington Rally.    After meeting with Tray Smith of H&H Products (right), U.S. Rep. Steve Womack (R-TX) agreed to co-sponsor the RPM Act.    From left: Eric Snyder of SEMA, Nate Shelton of Driven Performance Brands, U.S. Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA) and Jamie Eriksen of SEMA. 
Gene Green   Markwayne Mullin   Rally Town Hall
U.S. Representative Gene Green (D-TX) was honored by SEMA Chairman-Elect Wade Kawasaki (left) during the Washington Rally for his role in passing the Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act of 2015.   U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) was the keynote speaker at the 2016 SEMA Washington Rally dinner. Rep. Mullin was the sponsor of the Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act of 2015.   From left to right: U.S. Reps. Patrick McHenry (R-NC), Mike Kelly (R-PA), Bill Posey (R-FL) and Paul Cook (R-CA) took questions from SEMA members during the 2016 SEMA Washington Rally Congressional Town Hall.
DC Rally Group   Gwen Graham   Markwayne Mullin
During the Washington Rally luncheon U.S. Representatives Patrick McHenry (R-NC, second left), Bill Posey (R-FL, third left), Paul Cook (R-CA, third right) and Mike Kelly (R-PA, second right) were honored for their service and commitment to the specialty automotive aftermarket industry by SEMA Chairman Doug Evans (left) and SEMA President and CEO Chris Kersting (right).    U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham (D-FL) met with Rob Fisher of E3 Spark Plugs (left) and SEMA General Counsel Russ Deane (right) during the 2016 SEMA Washington Rally.    U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK, left) was presented with a commemorative portrait honoring his work on the Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act of 2015 by SEMA Chairman Doug Evans (right). 
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