The 2010 elections are here, and at no time in recent history has Washington been so divided. Less than two years ago, then-Sen. Barack Obama promised change-a new era of bipartisan cooperation, openness, and an abandonment of "politics as usual" well, so much for the "change."
We are again at an election crossroads in which many voters are again seeking "change," only this time change for the better rather than what we've experienced so far. That's what this magazine article is about-an opportunity to consider how actions being taken by federal and state lawmakers impact you, the classic truck enthusiast. The need for us to stay informed and become involved is greater than ever. From emissions to vehicle equipment standards, the government (since they're so much more sophisticated and smarter than you and I-just ask 'em) is making decisions about your current and future truck and/or car with no consideration of you or the industry in general.
This topic is not limited to Washington. While the federal government issues national rules dictating vehicle safety and emissions equipment, most other issues are handled at the state and local levels. From titling and registration to inspection/maintenance, your truck is subject to decisions made by state and local officials.
It may sound hokey, but the future of our hobby really does depend on you. The ballot box is one venue for making your views known-so take some time to investigate what's going on in your state and the nation, register, and then vote! We also urge you to work collectively with your fellow enthusiasts. How? Join the SEMA Action Network (SAN). SAN is a partnership between enthusiasts, truck/car clubs, and members of the specialty auto parts industry in the United States and Canada who have pledged to join forces in support of legislative solutions for the automotive hobby. It's free to join and SAN keeps you informed about pending legislation and regulations-both good and bad-that will impact your state or the entire country. It also provides you with action alerts, speaking points, and lawmaker contact information if you want to support or oppose a bill. Join now: www.semasan.com.
Street Rod and Custom Vehicle Registration and Titling
Special titling and registration designation and recognition of specialty cars, including antique, classic truck, street rod, custom, classic, collector, modified, replica, and kit car vehicles, has led to an easing of certain equipment standards and exemptions from stringent emission testing- allowing enthusiasts to enjoy the rodding hobby legally and providing more business opportunities to industry. The hobby supports initiatives to establish distinctive license plates and separate vehicle code definitions for these cars to increase awareness and allow special consideration during emission testing and equipment inspections. The hobby also supports initiatives to create classic motor vehicle project titles that apply to vehicles undergoing restoration that are at least 25 years old, not road-worthy, and currently without a title or with a title from another state. The hobby also supports initiatives to establish minimal one-time registration fees for specialty vehicles.
Street rods, customs, and kit cars are a unique and exciting niche of the automotive hobby and are enjoyed by hobbyists across the country. That is why for the past 10 years SAN, with the support of its dedicated enthusiasts, has championed SEMA-model legislation to make them easier to title and register. Beginning with Illinois in 2001, versions of the model bill have been successful in helping hobbyists title their rods in 20 states to date and SAN is working to add four more states to the list: Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Ohio.
For many vehicle enthusiasts throughout America, building, maintaining, and enjoying their vehicles is a favorite pastime. The SEMA-model legislation represents an opportunity to acknowledge their commitment to the hobby and to protect it for future generations. As market trends come and go it seems the street rod, classic truck, and custom car segment remains a consistently "hot" segment of the automotive aftermarket. Participants on both sides of the counter are driven by passion and enthusiasm. After all, what could be better than going for a cruise in a cool classic pickup or a shiny deuce coupe on a Saturday morning? To the citizens that the street rod and custom bill would most benefit, not much.
So, what exactly are classic trucks, street rods, and custom cars, and what are the differences between them? The street rod group is made up of vehicles with body types from manufacture years prior to 1949. Unlike antiques or vehicles found in the restoration niche, street rods have been altered with new equipment and usually take advantage of the many technological advances and upgrades. Street rod builders also commonly use other make or model components to tweak existing parts. Although custom cars and classic trucks are modified with similar materials as street rods, there is a key difference: Custom trucks and cars typically start-and finish-with the same base model vehicle, typically from the '40s-60s, though the SEMA-model designates customs as an altered vehicle manufactured after 1948.
According to a recent survey, manufacture sales of street rod and custom car/truck specialty equipment products reached $260 million, while retail sales hit the $636 million mark. The growth of the street rod and custom car market can in part be attributed to America's fascination with its own recent history. For the most part, these vehicles are pampered and coddled, buffed, shined, and meticulously cared for. They are the pride and joy of those who own them.
However, beloved street rods, customs, and classic trucks (including kit cars and replicas) have long struggled to find their place in the law. Almost all states have processes through which antiques can be registered, but fewer provide adequately for modified cars. Hobbyists attempting to title and register vehicles that they have built from the ground up must often find loopholes in their state's code to get it out on the road. The steps can be so time-consuming and confusing that many throw in the towel.
Summary of the SEMA Street Rod Custom Vehicle Bill:
Defines a street rod as an altered vehicle manufactured before 1949 and a custom vehicle as an altered vehicle manufactured after 1948. Provides specific registration classes and license plates for street rods and custom vehicles. Provides that replica vehicles and kit cars will be assigned the same model-year designations as the production vehicles they most closely resemble and allows the use of non-original materials. Exempts street rods and custom vehicles from periodic vehicle inspections and emissions inspections. Provides that vehicles titled and registered as street rods and custom vehicles may only be used for occasional transportation, exhibitions, club activities, parades, and tours, and not for general daily transportation. Exempts street rods and custom vehicles from a range of standard equipment requirements. Allows the use of blue-dot taillights on street rods and custom vehicles.
In recent years, state and federal officials have attempted to implement emissions reduction programs that target older vehicles. Most scrappage programs allow "smokestack" industries to avoid reducing their own emissions by buying pollution credits generated through destroying these vehicles. These programs accelerate the normal retirement of vehicles through the purchase of older cars, which are then typically crushed into blocks of scrap metal. Hobbyists suffer from the indiscriminate destruction of older cars, trucks, and parts, which anyone undergoing a restoration project can attest. America safeguards its artistic and architectural heritage against indiscriminate destruction, and our automotive and industrial heritage deserves the same protection.
While some legislation designed to spur sales of new and used automobiles is positive, such as vouchers toward the purchase of a new or used cars or tax credits to help upgrade, repair, or maintain older vehicles, scrappage provisions are not. Scrappage programs focus on vehicle age rather than actual emissions produced. This approach is based on the erroneous assumption that all "old cars are dirty cars." However, the true culprits are "gross polluters" -vehicles of any model year that are poorly maintained. Scrappage programs ignore better options like vehicle maintenance, repair, and upgrade programs that maximize the emissions systems of existing vehicles. In the past year, scrappage initiatives have been defeated in California, North Carolina, and Washington.
Enthusiasts played a vital role in altering federal scrappage legislation in 2009 when an amendment was worked into the "Cash for Clunkers" program to spare vehicles 25 years and older from the scrappage heap and expand parts recycling opportunities. Cash for Clunkers operated through voluntary consumer participation, allowing car owners to receive a voucher to help buy a new car in exchange for scrapping a less fuel-efficient vehicle. Vehicle hobbyists eased the program's effects by convincing lawmakers to include a requirement that the trade-in vehicle be a model year of 1984 or newer vehicle. This provision helped safeguard older vehicles, which are irreplaceable to hobbyists as a source of restoration parts.
Don't Get Zoned Out!
You come home one afternoon only to find a ticket on your project vehicle that's parked on your property. Sounds like a nightmare scenario, doesn't it? But in some areas of the country, it's all too real. State and local laws-some on the books now, others pending-can or will dictate where you can work to restore or modify your project vehicle. Believe it or not, that project car or truck you've stashed behind your house until the new crate engine arrives or the cherished collectible you've hung onto since high school to pass down to your kids could very easily be towed right out of your yard depending on the zoning laws in your area.
Why is the long arm of the law reaching into your backyard? Some zealous government officials are waging war against what they consider "eyesores." To us, of course, these are valuable ongoing restoration projects. But to a non-enthusiast lawmaker, your diamond-in-the-rough looks like a junker ready for the salvage yard. If you're not careful, that's exactly where it will wind up.
Hobbyists are becoming increasingly concerned about the many states and localities currently enforcing or attempting to legislate strict property or zoning laws that include restrictions on visible inoperable automobile bodies and parts. Often, removal of these vehicles from private property is enforced through local nuisance laws with minimal or no notice to the owner. Jurisdictions enforce or seek to enact these laws for a variety of reasons, most particularly because they believe inoperative vehicles are eyesores that adversely affect property values or inoperative vehicles pose a health risk associated with leaking fluids and chemicals. Many such laws are drafted broadly, allowing for the confiscation of vehicles being repaired or restored.
For the purposes of these laws, "inoperable vehicles" are most often defined as those on which the engine, wheels, or other parts have been removed, altered, damaged, or allowed to deteriorate so that the vehicle cannot be driven. The following are some common conditions that cause vehicles to be in violation of these laws: missing tires, vehicle on blocks, front windshield missing, no engine, steering wheel missing, license plate with expired registration date, or no license tag.
In the '09-10 legislative session, hobbyists defeated bills in Hawaii, Kansas, Nebraska, Virginia, and West Virginia that would have established unreasonable restrictions on backyard restoration projects. In response to these and other anti-hobbyist efforts, SEMA has drafted its own inoperable vehicle bill that's fair to restorers while still considerate of neighbors who don't want a junkyard operating next door. The SEMA-model bill simply states that project vehicles and their parts must be maintained or stored outside of "ordinary public view." States can adopt this model legislation as their own; in 2005, Kentucky did just that. This past session, Vermont also chose to protect hobbyists from a bill that was targeted at salvage yards. The new law increases the regulation of salvage yards and automobile graveyards in the state, but includes a provision stipulating that hobbyists are not to be confused with the owners of automobile graveyards. The new law defines an "automobile hobbyist" as a person not primarily engaged in the sale of vehicles and parts or dismantling junk vehicles. Further, the definition of "automobile graveyard" does not include an area used by an automobile hobbyist for storage and restoration purposes, provided their activities comply with federal, state, and municipal law.
A model inoperative vehicle bill should contain the following elements:
An explicit provision prohibiting a local area from adopting or implementing an ordinance or land use regulation that prohibits a person from engaging in the activities of an automobile collector in an area zoned by the municipality. A definition of collector vehicles that includes parts cars. A provision allowing an automobile collector to conduct mechanical repairs and modifications to a vehicle on private property. A provision mandating that government authorities provide actual notice to the vehicle's last registered owner and provide an opportunity for voluntary compliance prior to confiscation. A provision mandating due process of the law (adequate notice, right to hearing, and the ) prior to the removal of a vehicle from private property. Language to permit the outdoor storage of a motor vehicle if the vehicle is maintained in such a manner as not to constitute a health hazard. The condition that parts vehicles be located away from public view, or screened by means of a suitable fence, trees, shrubbery, opaque covering, or other appropriate means.
Experience indicates that it will be helpful to make a few preparations when you are working in your state or locality to modify damaging proposed inoperable vehicle language:
Develop a specialty vehicle definition (vehicle is 25 years old or older; limited production vehicle; special interest vehicle, etc.). Build a coalition of interested clubs and organizations. Propose fair alternative language that benefits both the hobbyist and the community (screened from ordinary public view by means of a suitable fence, trees, shrubbery, etc.). Garner support from local media. Be persistent in your efforts.
Emissions and Smog Check Programs
Many states operate their own inspection and maintenance (I/M) programs in areas that the has designated as a "nonattainment area," meaning that the area has not attained the Environmental Protection Agency's required air quality. The EPA checks for carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, particulate matter, and sulfur dioxide when designating these areas. When an area does not meet the standard for any individual pollutant, or any combination of the pollutants, then it is placed on the list of nonattainment areas.
To meet the EPA's emissions reduction requirements, many states are implementing more stringent emission I/M programs. An I/M program may be currently operating in your state, or could be soon.
Many states have incorporated the OBD testing method as part of the vehicle emissions inspection for '96 and newer vehicles. These OBD tests replace tailpipe tests by identifying emissions problems through information stored in the vehicle's on-board computer system. Some states have even proposed only testing vehicles with the OBD test, limiting the vehicles that need to be tested to those manufactured in 1996 and later. The I/M 240 is an enhanced emissions testing program, with "240" representing the number of seconds that the tailpipe portion of the test lasts. I/M 240 tests require visual inspection of emissions control devices, an evaporative emissions test and a transient drive-cycle exhaust emissions test, performed while the vehicle is running on rollers. Many state programs mistakenly fail vehicles in the visual test based on the presence of aftermarket engine products or force older collector vehicles to undergo some type of testing.
Policy makers must properly focus inspection procedures and not confuse legitimate aftermarket parts with emission defeat devices and tampering violations. The hobby must also pursue proactive legislative initiatives to establish exemptions from inspections for low-mileage vehicles, classic vehicles (defined as 25 years old and older), and newer vehicles. It is useful to remind legislators that the emissions from this small portion of the vehicle fleet are negligible. This is especially true when you consider the low miles typically driven by hobby vehicles and the excellent condition in which these vehicles are maintained.
Equipment Standards and Inspections
The federal government, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, has the right to set, enforce, and investigate safety standards for new motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment. These Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) are performance-based. They do not dictate design elements. For example, the federal lighting standard prescribes the photometric requirements for a headlamp but does not dictate shape or size.
The FMVSS covers basic types of equipment (tires, rims, headlamps/taillamps, brake hoses, etc.) and establishes vehicle crashworthiness requirements (front and side impact, roof crush resistance, fuel system integrity, etc.).
Emissions and emissions-related parts are regulated by the U.S. EPA and various state agencies, primary of which is the California Air Resources Board (CARB). For products sold in California (and states that have adopted the California standards), manufacturers must conform to standards issued by the CARB.
Federal law prohibits states from issuing motor vehicle safety regulations that conflict with federal standards. This is called federal preemption. However, states are free to enact and enforce safety and equipment regulations, which are identical to the FMVSS or, in the absence of a federal rule, establish their own laws and regulations. The most frequent examples of individual state rules cover parts like "optional" or "accessory" lighting equipment, noise levels for exhaust and stereo systems, suspension height, and window tinting. States also establish rules on how a vehicle is titled and registered. State and local jurisdictions have authority to regulate inoperable vehicles or determine whether an enthusiast is engaged in a business versus a private activity. State and local law enforcement officials issue tickets and inspect cars.
State laws have evolved over many generations and they continue to change. Some laws are better than others, and there is a constant need to remind state policy makers not to be biased in favor of the vehicle's original equipment, such as lighting, tires and wheels, suspension components, and bumper/frame height. For example, some state laws allow motorists to be ticketed when an officer has made a subjective noise level determination that the exhaust system is "louder than what came with the car." To cite another example, bills have been introduced in state legislatures to ban spinners even though they are legal at the federal level. Opposing arbitrary and unnecessarily restrictive equipment and inspection laws is a constant challenge.
How Loud is too Loud?
Imagine driving down the road and getting stopped for the modified muffler on your hot rod. Now imagine sitting on the shoulder, receiving a citation from local law enforcement, while a stock Ferrari overtakes your car and drives on. This is the scene being played on state highways across the country, the result of poorly drafted or ineffective state laws and regulations. The laws on the books in these states frequently cite the manufacturer's specifications or a factory-installed muffler as the basis on which vehicle exhaust noise is measured.
On this topic, states can generally be divided into two major categories: states with noise standards and states without noise standards. Of the states with a test standard on the books, many ignore guidelines when handing out citations. Most states that have chosen to go the route of setting specifications choose to measure a vehicle's noise by decibels. States that have quantifiable noise standards on the books are shaded red in the map (at left). These standards often go unenforced. One reason these regulations are not enforced is that they are based on an in-use standard-exhaust noise is measured while a vehicle is in motion on the highway. The states that employ these operating standards typically divide vehicles into classes and then set separate standards: one for vehicles while driving on roads with a speed limit of 35 mph or less and a second standard for vehicles driving on roadways with a speed limit greater than 35 mph. The measurements are to be taken while the vehicle is in motion on the road, usually from a distance of 50 feet from the center lane of travel.
Other states choose not to specify a quantifiable noise standard. These states are shown in yellow in the map. Typical language in these states' statutes includes prohibitions on "excessive or unusual noise" from a vehicle's exhaust system. While most motorists believe that exhaust systems should not be used in a way that causes overly loud or objectionable noise, these vague provisions fail to provide a clear and objective standard for those seeking more durable exhaust systems that enhance a vehicle's appearance and increase performance.
Language that effectively limits the use of aftermarket exhausts can be found amongst both yellow and red states. Such language includes sentences such as "no person shall modify the exhaust system of a motor vehicle in any manner that will amplify or increase the noise or sound emitted louder than that emitted by the muffler originally installed on the vehicle." While such language does not specifically prohibit all modification, it does not provide any means of measuring whether a vehicle has been acceptably modified. Such language also negatively affects the aftermarket industry by placing the noise limit authority in the hands of the OEMs and ignores the fact that aftermarket exhaust systems are designed to make vehicles run more efficiently without increasing emissions.
Green on the map identifies the three states that have enacted SEMA model legislation to provide enthusiasts and law enforcement officials with a fair and enforceable alternative. The model legislation establishes a 95dB exhaust noise limit based on an industry standard adopted by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). Under this standard (SAE J1169), a sound meter is placed 20 inches from the exhaust outlet at a 45-degree angle and the engine is revved to three quarters of maximum-rated horsepower. The highest decibel reading is then recorded.
Previous California law allowed modifications so long as the noise levels did not exceed the 95dB limit. However, the roadside enforcement of this limit was chaotic, leading to subjective, selective, and improper enforcement.
Enforcement of the previous law and regulations in California, for example, resulted in many drivers being pulled over by state and local police and cited for improper modified exhaust systems despite having what they believed to be legal aftermarket exhausts. To prove a point (and educate itself) about the widespread improper enforcement of the previous California exhaust law, SEMA conducted a series of exhaust noise tests in early April 2001. First, SEMA contacted California SAN members to see how many folks had received citations for excessive or modified exhaust. We were surprised and dismayed to learn how many fit the category! SEMA then invited them to have their cars tested to see if they actually complied with California law. Finally, we hired a board-certified acoustical engineer and did the testing according to the standards set out in California law. Long story short, of the cars we tested only one exceeded the 95db legal level.
To remedy this problem, in 2002 SEMA helped enact a new enforcement procedure in California through its model bill. The new law forces compliance with an objectively measured standard in a fair and predictable test. Through this procedure, motorists who drive vehicles legally equipped with modified exhaust systems can confirm that they comply with California's exhaust noise standard. The California Bureau of Automotive Repair began operation of the motor vehicle exhaust noise-testing program in 2003. The law also allows courts to dismiss citations for exhaust systems that have been tested and for which a certificate of compliance has been issued. Under the program, the 40 smog check stations statewide that provide referee functions are performing the test. These referee stations are issuing certificates of compliance for vehicles when tests of their exhaust systems demonstrate that they emit no more than 95 dB, under the SAE test procedure. However, only those vehicles that have received a citation for an exhaust noise violation are permitted to submit their vehicle for the test. A similar standard was enacted in Maine in 2003 and Montana in 2007.
A Quick Guide to Paint Regulations
There are two main issues with respect to regulatory oversight, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and hazardous air pollutants (HAPs).
VOCs include both man-made and naturally occurring chemical compounds that are released into the atmosphere as a gas. They are found in oil-based paints, adhesives, and cleaning supplies and may trigger respiratory irritation, headaches, or other health concerns. VOCs also react with nitrogen oxides and sunlight to form smog. Both federal and state regulators have imposed limits on VOC emissions, primarily at the manufacturer level. A number of products, from paint to engine degreasers and windshield washer fluids, have been reformulated to reduce their VOC levels. Additionally, there has been an effort to switch the public from oil-based paints and cleaning solvents (enamel, lacquer, mineral spirits, etc.) to water-based paints like latex. The paint industry has expanded the range of water-based finishes that are available to assist in the conversion. Sometimes it is not a voluntary switch. A number of states or urban areas have banned retail sales of certain oil-based products in an effort to combat smog.
Aerosol can spray paints are frequently used for smaller jobs and touch-up painting. They rely on VOC-emitting propellants, gases used to expand and force out the paint when the valve is opened. The propellants have changed over the years. Chlorofluorocarbons were banned in 1978 since they deplete the upper ozone layer. Butane and propane were then widely used until they were identified as significant smog contributors. The paint industry has more recently relied on a variety of Hydrofluorocarbons to serve as propellants. To address VOCs in aerosol paints, both the U.S. EPA and California have limited the amount of propellants that can be used in spray paint. As with paints purchased in cans, the issue is largely being addressed at the manufacturer level through product reformulation.
HAPs pose a separate concern. They are hazardous metal compounds-cadmium, chromium, nickel, etc.-that become airborne during paint stripping operations or surface coating and autobody refinishing operations. The EPA now regulates most activities except low-volume operations, such as when hobbyists restore or customize one or two personal vehicles (or the equivalent in pieces) per year. The EPA rule establishes "best practices" (spray booth, spray gun cleaning) for minimizing HAP emissions during surface coating operations. All shops are effectively required to have a filtered spray booth or prep station and use high-volume low-pressure (HVLP) or equivalent spray equipment. Spray guns are required to be cleaned manually or with an enclosed spray gun washer. According to the EPA, if new equipment is required to meet the requirements, the costs should be recouped through a more efficient use of labor and materials. (It should be noted that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires commercial spray finishing operations to be performed in a booth or similar enclosure). The HAP rule does not apply to painting done with an airbrush or handheld non-refillable aerosol cans.
Regulating paint has been a balancing act: making sure hobbyists and commercial entities have access to affordable, quality paints while protecting health and environment. It has also been a moving target, since there is always the chance rules put in place today may not be deemed adequate upon further review. A good source for additional information is: http://www.ccar-greenlink.org/paintrule.html.
Engine Swaps Made Easier
Hobbyists frequently ask us about the rules governing engine switching in project vehicles. First of all, those engaged in engine switching activities are bound by specific state laws that may vary from state to state. Having said that, there are some general guidelines one may consider. This article will cover the rules for switching the engine in production-type vehicles (but not specially constructed vehicles, street rods, kit cars, and the like). The basic rule of engine switching (as opposed to installing a "replacement" engine) is that the change must do no harm. This means that the engine being installed must theoretically be at least as "clean" as the one taken out. Several requirements may define "clean" for the purposes of engine switching:
Model Year: The engine to be installed must be the same age or newer than the one being replaced. Crate engines can be used if they are configured to resemble an engine that was certified by the U.S. EPA and/or the CARB. This essentially means that the required emissions parts must be present on the engine.
Certification Level: The engine to be installed must come from a vehicle certified to meet the same or more stringent emissions standards than the one replaced.
Vehicle Class: An engine from a vehicle class such as a motor home, medium-duty truck, or marine application must not be used since these engines were certified to different types of emissions standards using different tests.
System/Equipment: When swapping in a newer engine from a later-model vehicle, all of the relevant emissions control equipment must be transferred as well. This includes the carbon canister, the catalytic converter(s), and even parts of the on-board diagnostic (OBD) system. Some states have exceptions to this requirement, but the general rule is that as much of the donor vehicle's emissions system as possible should be transferred. The vehicle will likely run more efficiently with a full transfer of the system and shouldn't cause any undue heartache.
Of course, engine switching can be much more complex than described here, but these are good general rules to follow and should keep engine switchers out of trouble in most cases.
The U.S. EPA and many states have enforceable policies and guidelines on how to perform legal engine changes. For further information, please consult the EPA and California Bureau of Automotive Repair at: www.epa.gov/compliance/resources/policies/civil/caa/mobile/engswitch.pdf and www.bar.ca.gov/80_BARResources/07_AutoRepair/Engine_Change_Guidelines.html.
Lobby for the Hobby
"We the people of the United States" are not just words from the first line of an old document. We are the people who love muscle cars, hot rods, street rods, tuners, replicas, off-road trucks, and many other varieties of automotive pursuits who are as diverse as the country in which we live. We are also the people who have to work to protect our automotive passions from unnecessary, unfair, or well intentioned but poorly written laws and regulations. Fortunately, we the people live in a country where we can still make a difference in how we are governed.
Our greatest tool in making that difference is our voice. By speaking out on issues that concern the automotive hobby, contacting our representatives, and working constructively with government officials, we have the power to protect our passion and keep it safe for future generations of auto hobbyists and enthusiasts. When legislatures are out of session, representatives are in their home districts and typically have more time to meet casually with their constituents. They are also planning for the next legislative session and deciding which bills to introduce. Contacting them can have a tremendous impact by raising their awareness of issues that could impact our hobby during the next session. That is what makes right now the perfect time to get involved and build relationships with your legislators, so hit the gas and keep your foot down!
To get you started, we have prepared 10 tips you can use when contacting your representatives:
1. Develop and maintain relationships with your legislators and their staff
Make contact and develop productive relationships with individual legislators. It is the most effective form of grassroots lobbying. It's also important to develop a relationship with their staff who monitor ongoing legislative and community initiatives.
2. Educate legislators about our hobby and our issues
Educate your legislator about the hobby and emphasize the positive impact it has on the community.
3. Maintain a positive attitude
Develop a positive relationship with your legislator. The next time an enthusiast-related issue comes up, that same legislator may be needed to support your cause.
4. Stay informed
Keep up-to-date on the legislative issues that affect the hobby in your state. Share this information with fellow enthusiasts.
5. Get involved in the community
Join with other community groups to build positive exposure. Holding charity runs and fundraisers provide a great opportunity to show local residents and politicians that auto clubs are a positive community force.
6. Build relationships with the local media
Contact local newspapers and radio/TV stations to publicize car shows, charity events, etc.
7. Invite officials to participate in your events
Give legislators a platform to reach an audience of constituents.
8. Build an automotive coalition
Create coalitions to add strength in numbers and ensure that the rights of all vehicle enthusiasts are represented. Actively participating in regional and statewide councils will develop a unified message to lawmakers. These types of pro-hobbyist groups can be an influential political force.
9. Spread the word
Take this information to your next club meeting, cruise night, or post it on your online forums. Share this information with other enthusiasts who are willing to help lobby for the hobby.
10. Register to vote
Exercise your right to support pro-hobby candidates. Constituents are an elected official's number-one priority. Without you and your vote of support, they would not be in office, so make sure you're registered and get out and vote.