Thursday, 22 May 2014 19:56

Auto Repair Industry Goes to Sacramento, CA, for its Annual ASCCA/CAA Joint Legislative Day

Every year, automotive repairers from all over California converge on the capitol in Sacramento, CA. It’s not anything close to the Million Man March, but it surely is important to the thousands of people who work for body shops or mechanical repair facilities throughout the Golden State. At the Automotive Service Councils of California (ASCCA) and California Autobody Association (CAA) Joint Legislative Day on April 30, 2014, 100 automotive repair professionals from all over the state came together to take on the powers-that-be and provide feedback about proposed legislation that could potentially impact their businesses.

Legislative Day speakers included Tim Corcoran and Bill Thomas from the Bureau of Automotive Repair, who discussed enforcement efforts and licensing issues, and Betty Jo Toccoli, the president of the California Small Business Association, who talked about the current state of legislation affecting small businesses in California. After the morning sessions, State Senator Bob Huff spoke to ASCCA/CAA members about his views and concerns regarding proposed bills that will impact the repairers’ respective businesses if passed.

Before members were to meet with their political representatives, they were briefed by Jack Molodanof, the lobbyist for both organizations, who taught the members about the proper protocol to use while encountering politicians or their representatives. Molodanof always opens with a joke or amusing anecdote, but then he’s all business. Coaching the members of ASCCA/CAA about how to approach their local representatives is always crucial, and that’s why Molodanof always sets down the rules first.

“The most important thing to remember, obviously, is never offer anything to any politician,” Molodanof explained. “In addition, don’t complain, mislead anyone, or most importantly—never threaten or antagonize a legislator or their staff. Also, speak clearly and don’t chit-chat. Get through your presentation succinctly and be prepared.”

With scheduled appointments throughout the capitol offices all day long, ASCCA/CAA members broke into smaller groups to cover as much territory as possible. As they marched through the hallways looking for politicians’ offices and scrambling to get to their appointments on time, members were adamant about letting their representatives know their sides of each bill on their agenda.

CAA president Mike Passof, the owner of B&J Body Shop & Towing in Rancho Cordova, CA, appreciates the role of CAA in shaping tomorrow’s collision industry and sees great value in the ASCCA/CAA Legislative Day. “It’s important because if we’re not watching the fort, you never know what can happen,” Passof said. “Stay informed and be heard and play a role in the future success of your business. By participating in the political process and working with your local representatives, you can make sure that bills that can negatively impact your shop won’t become laws and vice versa.”

“This is the one opportunity every year when we can meet with our political representatives en masse and get our message out there,” CAA executive David McClune said. “We can influence these bills before they become laws and provide valuable feedback for our key decision makers. Most importantly, we can provide them with a look into how our members run their businesses and all of the factors that can affect them and their livelihoods.”

Bills on the radar for ASCCA/CAA for 2014 included AB 1522 (Gonzalez), a bill that deals with employment and, specifically, paid sick days. Both organizations oppose this bill that would require employers to provide payment of sick leave to all employees. As currently written, an employee who works for seven days or more days in a calendar year is entitled to sick pay rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked and be limited to 24 hours or three days in a calendar year. Today many small business employers voluntarily provide paid sick leave payment even though current law does not require doing so. Requiring such a costly mandate on all employers could result in lower wages, reduction of job hours, or job losses and burden on small business. The current economic conditions are already making it difficult for small business to survive and mandating additional costs will only worsen the situation, according to Molodanof.

The next bill SB 935 (Leno) deals with minimum wage and an annual adjustment, which is opposed by the ASCCA/CAA. This bill would increase the minimum wage on and after January 1, 2015, to not less than $11.00 per hour; on and after January 1, 2016, to not less than $12.00 per hour; on January 1, 2017, to not less than $13.00 per hour; and increases the minimum wage annually thereafter based on the California Consumer Price Index. The legislature already passed legislation in 2013 (AB 10) to increase minimum wage on July 1, 2014, to $9.00 per hour and on January 1, 2016, to $10.00 per hour. Another increase will negatively impact economic recovery either by limiting available jobs or creating further job loss. SB 935 increases coupled with various cost increases that will impact small business employers, including increased worker’s compensation rates, increased energy costs, as well as increased costs associated with the Affordable Care Act, will create concern and uncertainty for small businesses. Furthermore, this bill would have additional burdens on automotive repair shops to pay employees double the minimum wage when employees are required to bring their own tools, Molodanof claims.

Another bill that seems to re-emerge every year without passing is Education: SB 1007 and ACR 119: Career Technical Education (CTE), which the membership supports. These modest bills are intended to promote career technical education in California schools, and SB 1007 declares the need for career technical education programs and calling on the Superintendent of Public Instruction and the State Board of Education to consider ways to expand career technical in middle and high schools in the state. ACR 119 encourages the chancellor of the California community colleges, in consultation with affected stakeholders, including experts in the field of CTE, the business and industry representatives, and faculty to develop options to address long-term funding needs of CTE. The public school system was once a model for providing students with the opportunity to acquire training and technical expertise for meaningful employment in the automotive industry. Unfortunately, the old vocational model is falling apart from 35 years of neglect. It’s time to allow students to pursue skills necessary to survive without a college education, a position outlined by Jack Molodanof.