More than 80 shop owners, both mechanical and collision, were on hand to represent both organizations and push legislation that benefits both groups.
Prior to meeting with their local senators, congress people and assembly members, the ASCCA/CAA met for a continental breakfast and to devise a strategic approach to the day’s list of deliverables.
First, the two groups listened to a presentation made by Deputy Chief of the Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) Patrick Dore. Dore outlined all of the newest developments concerning the California Smog Program and how the changes will affect primarily the mechanical repair industry. ASCCA President Jack Crawley also spoke and CAA Executive Director David McClune welcomed everyone to Legislative Day 2013.
Last year at Legislative Day, the hottest potato on the table for the collision industry was Senate Bill 1460, known as the Automotive Repair: Replacement Parts Bill, introduced by Senator Leland Yee. It attempted to create a new legal presumption that all certified crash parts will be deemed sufficient to return a vehicle to its pre-loss condition. The CAA opposed the bill and CAA members lobbied to kill it, because it asked more questions than provided answers, according to Jack Molodanof, who represents both the ASCCA and CAA as its legal advocate.
But before members were off to take on Sacramento, Jack Molodanof briefed everyone about the proper protocol to be used while encountering their local representatives or members of their staff. For veterans it was not new information, but for first-timers it was valuable advice.
“Don’t ever mention that you donated money to their campaign, even if it’s true,” Molodanof explained. “That’s kind of tacky. Also, never tell them that you’re a taxpayer. Get their business cards and don’t get distracted. Be brief, stay on point and move quickly, because they’ll respect that and remember your conversation later. Give reasons why you support or oppose a specific measure and tell your personal story if it’s applicable. And don’t forget your ABCs (Always Be Closing). Seek a commitment and ask for their support and never, ever mislead a legislator.”
With scheduled appointments throughout the Capitol’s offices all day long, ASCCA/CAA members assembled into small groups to cover as much territory as possible. Although body shops and mechanical shops have different perspectives, all three of this year’s bills on the ASCCA/CAA list deal with issues that can greatly impact both businesses.
The first bill of concern to both organizations is an attempt to extend sales tax to include services. The ASCCA/CAA both strongly oppose this bill, because they feel that a sales tax on services will negatively impact the economy and put an unhealthy burden on taxpayers. It also discriminates against small businesses by increasing costs, thereby making it more expensive to own and operate any type of business in California that markets its services.
In addition, ASCCA/CAA’s stance is that by implementing a sales tax on services, working families would also be negatively impacted and lower-income people would have to pay a larger portion of their income than higher-income earners would for taxes on services. In addition, sale taxes on automotive repair services could eventually lead to more do-it-yourselfers and impacting repair shops throughout the state, while compromising safety.
“This bill keeps coming around, because California needs the money,” Molodanof said. “But it could backfire, because if it passes, we could be a state that produces products but not services. There is absolutely no upside to his bill and in any reincarnation it’s something we need to strongly oppose.”
Two other bills of interest to both mechanical and collision repairers are SB 607 (Berryhill) and AB 907 (Conway) that deal with the issue of working hours and work week flexibility. These bills would allow an individual non-exempt employee to request an employee-selected flexible work schedule providing for work days up to 10 hours per day within a 40-hour work week without warranting overtime compensation. Current laws prohibit this flexibility and both the ASCCA and CAA strongly support both bills.
“We like this bill, because our members want to be able to accommodate their employees,” Molodanof said. “Workers with families or other obligations outside of work should have this flexibility, we believe. The main problem with these bills is that they require a ton of paperwork and coordination, which might make it not feasible for smaller shops, especially those that can’t afford a human resources person on staff.”
The third bill on the table is SB 540, the Career Technical Education (CTE) bill (Wyland). It is once again in play after many previous failed attempts and both the ASCCA and CAA support the bill for many reasons. Essentially, SB 540 would allow a school district or county office of education to award a student a Career Technical Education (CTE) certificate if specified conditions are met. These include the participation in a structured, work-based learning experience related to CTE courses, completing a minimum of four CTE courses and also completing a project related to their CTE classes.
“This bill will affect the future of this industry, but it has stalled in the past due to funding problems,” Molodanof explained. “We need to tell our legislators that this is important to us and we strongly support it. Our public school system here in California used to be well-known for providing students with the opportunity to acquire technical training that would lead to jobs in the automotive repair industry. Unfortunately, the former vocational model is falling apart because it’s been neglected for 40 years. It’s time to re-ignite these programs and provide a viable career alternative for students without a college education.”
After the legislative appointments, the ASCCA/CAA members met for lunch, where they listened to presentations from Betty Jo Toccoli, president of the California Small Business Association and ASCCA’s Legislative of the Year Senator Ben Hueso, SD 40. After the luncheon, ASCCA/CAA members were invited to again meet with their legislators or attend committee hearings.