According to AAAS President Randal Ward, “the Capitol Day events are designed to allow AAAS members and staff the opportunity to walk the halls of the legislatures and meet with various representatives, senators and state office holders.”
The Capitol Day event originated with the Florida Automotive Industry Association (FAIA), and Ward attended several events, noting the positive results. When AAAS and FAIA merged in 2009, Ward continued the event in Tallahassee and eventually expanded into Atlanta and now Jackson; the goal is to eventually include Montgomery AL in the circuit to complete the four-state schedule of AAAS’s service area.
The importance of these events is found in the development of relationships between AAAS members and their elected officials, which allows legislators to become familiar with the issues impacting the automotive industry. Although AAAS has not faced any specific issues over the past few years, Ward believes “these visits position us to deal with the issues that are sure to arise down the road. Our objective is to make friends in the legislatures and to familiarize people with the unique concerns and challenges we face in the automotive aftermarket. Getting to know the legislators allows us to make smarter decisions with our political action committee contributions and puts us in a position to be proactive in representing the industry.”
Ward is confident that these events have had a positive influence on the current state of the industry: “in the course of our visits, we have answered many questions about certain issues, and we have no doubt that our efforts have helped avoid potentially harmful legislation being introduced or, worse, passed into law.”
Of course, Ward knows that the association’s Capitol Day events would not be successful without the support of AAAS members. He states, “we are very thankful for the members that give so freely of their time and efforts to strengthen the hand of the association in dealing with legislative and regulatory challenges. Our members do not stop with the Capitol Day visit. They follow up with the representatives in their districts, and of course, our members are there during elections as well. These members contribute to the association’s political action committee and have strong input in the selection of candidates for contributions from the PAC. With their involvement and input, the political action committee has achieved a great track record of success. These PAC contributions are most often put in the hands of the member and then personally delivered to the candidate.”
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