The Watchdog

Protecting the Rights of Consumers

Larry Jewett - March 01, 2012 10:00 AM



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While the political focus of the country is stretching the presidential primaries through the year, it can be business as usual for the legislative branch of government at the federal and state level.

Laws still have to be made, even if it is not known who’s going to be the head of the federal executive branch and several state leaders are likely to change.

The process of making laws is a complex one, well beyond the scope of understanding for anyone who took more than the cursory civics class in the course of an educational experience. There are committees to consider and procedures to be followed and so on and so forth. While we can remain somewhat ignorant of the process, we can never let the process dictate the outcome.

For car hobbyists, we have a friend in government. That friend is the SEMA Action Network (SAN), which is now also a friend to those who live in Canada. The SEMA Action Network is a service that encompasses those who want to make sure the rights of car collectors and hobbyists get a fair shake. While there is an administrative side within SEMA, the strength of the organization is in the people involved – car clubs, individuals and members of the parts industry. They unite to make sure that legislation dealing with the automobile is directed at the positive side of things. It’s necessary because, honestly, lawmakers may not have our best interests in mind.

In reality, some of the threat to the hobby comes from a lack of knowledge on behalf of those who are charged with creating the laws. The elected officials don’t always see the full story because they may be coming from a different perspective and unaware of the implications of actions if those actions are successful. That’s why SAN developed model legislation and is quick to point out when something is amiss.

Most of the focus comes at the state level, where lawmakers are tackling issues they deem necessary. Common targets are exhaust systems, environmental concerns, inoperable vehicles and more.

When an auto related bill is proposed, SAN will analyze it to determine the effect it could have on the hobby. Enthusiasts who receive alerts regarding these laws are urged to contact lawmakers to voice their views. SAN provides that contact info and it then becomes incumbent on the hobbyists to take action. If there is any doubt about which way to go when faced with the legislation, SAN either requests support or opposition. Remember, not all new laws are bad.

This summer, National Collector Car Appreciation Day will be celebrated on July 13. In what has become an annual event, SAN sets aside a day, encouraging car clubs to plan and direct activity around the collector car. Often, the day is accompanied by a government proclamation in recognition of the hobby.

Plans are already starting across the country for the celebration of Collector Car Day. SAN is collecting events and maintaining a list that will be updated periodically as the day approaches. If July 13 isn’t the most convenient day, activities through the month of July are recognized.

The idea of watching the state legislatures and Congress would be a daunting task for individuals, but the action of SAN makes it so that hobbyists need only be on guard based on the alerts. The organization has the best interest of the hobby in mind and has a long-standing record of pushing through the good while derailing the bad.

The idea of having a hobby is that it is meant to be enjoyed. While government regulation could be considered a necessary evil, it doesn’t have to be more evil than necessary. For those who want to see the hobby grow, to enjoy it with future generations, groups like SAN are as vital as new aftermarket parts.

As often happens, it’s the vocal few that can make a difference. Imagine what kind of difference can be made by a vocal many. If you have an interest in preserving the hobby, join SEMA Action Network. Details can be found at

Need another reason? Did I mention it’s free. That’s clearly a small price to pay to get the job done.