Perspectives: Keeping An Eye on Legislative Action

Perspectives: Keeping An Eye on Legislative Action

I must admit, when it comes to politics and government, I don’t get caught up in all the debates in the House and Senate and the decisions of every appellate court in the land. Don’t get me wrong; I vote in all the elections, but it seems that the news agencies have a way of prioritizing the information so that some subjects get too much exposure, while others get lost in the clutter. In the process I’ve become very selective with what gets my attention.

Here are a few issues in the news that could impact your business, and I think they could use your attention.

The Perkins Act — The Perkins Act is important to your business because it helps to fund vocational education programs. Our future workforce of technicians needs training programs that are staffed with qualified teachers and are equipped with modern tools and equipment. The reason for concern is President Bush’s fiscal year 2007 budget proposal, which eliminates Perkins funding. There is already a shortage of qualified technicians and elimination of this funding could make the situation even worse.

The Health Insurance Marketplace Modernization and Affordability Act (also referred to as the Association Health Plan) — There are millions of Americans working for small businesses who don’t have health insurance. The goal of this legislation is to allow small businesses to band together across state lines (via an association) to purchase group insurance in order to provide affordable healthcare to their employees. If enacted, small businesses would have more choices of insurance providers, and would benefit from lower prices.

The Stop Counterfeiting in Manufactured Goods Act — While it appears that the music and video industries get all the attention when it comes to the subject of counterfeiting, the auto parts industry is a business arena where the negative effects of counterfeiting can be very costly. Sure, the economic losses to the manufacturers are huge, but the real loser could be your customer whose vehicle breaks down or, worse yet, is involved in an accident because of the failure of a counterfeit part. Legislative progress has been made on this topic, but it will be a constant battle to find the sources of counterfeit products.

The Motor Vehicle Owner’s Right to Repair Act — The Right to Repair Act has been hotly debated the last couple of years between groups representing the aftermarket and others representing vehicle manufacturers. The issue is that aftermarket proponents want legislation created to guarantee access to the information and tools necessary to diagnose and repair vehicles. In addition, they want the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to enforce the regulations to ensure competition so vehicle owners can have a choice on where to get their vehicles repaired. The vehicle manufacturer groups and some independent repairers contend that the information already is available, (www.NASTF.org) and, therefore, there is no need for legislation and involvement from the FTC.

For more information on these topics and many more, go to the following websites. Many of these sites provide form letters you can use to write or e-mail your local government representative to share your opinion: www.takingthehill.com, www.aftermarket.org, www.aftermarketsuppliers.org and www.sema.org.

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