A Message from Don Hall

February 2020


This week is “crossover week” in the General Assembly, meaning bills that have survived the House of Delegates are sent to the Senate – and Senate bills go on to the House for consideration.

Your VADA legislative team – Anne Gambardella, Tommy Lukish and me – has been successful with numerous compromises and even defeating measures that could have negatively impacted our industry. Our work isn’t over, as some bills still need our attention – whether we advocate for changes or continue to push for them to be killed because they could hurt our dealers or, indeed, any business.

Every week, we publish Capitol Briefs, which gives extensive details on key bills and what we’re doing to work with legislators. I hope you make time in your schedule to review these updates and remain ready to work with us on important initiatives.

Don’t stay on the sidelines

I recently sat down for an interview with CBT Automotive Network, which delivers great information and insights from today’s industry leaders. The topic? The changing level of engagement among today’s dealers in the political process.

Many third- and fourth-generation dealers operate across Virginia. Those dealers’ parents and grandparents – even great-grandparents – played active political roles in shaping our industry.

Fast forward to today’s General Assembly, which is unlike any I’ve seen in 32 years as VADA’s chief lobbyist. In the past, legislators depended on lobbyists to explain the nuances of bills: what they mean or don’t mean, and who’s for or against a bill. These new-style lawmakers – mirrored in statehouses from coast-to-coast and in Washington, D.C. – are stiff-arming lobbyists, determined to read and study issues on their own and to forge their own paths.

Unfortunately, that means they’re pushing expertise to the side, as lobbyists are the ones who know the issues and the implications of pending legislation. Depending on the year, legislators are in Richmond for only 45- or 60-day sessions. They simply don’t have time to understand every issue. Lobbyists play an important role in presenting facts, much like lawyers do in a courtroom.

Simply put, we need to be able to tell our stories as part of the political process.

As we build relationships with new legislators, they will come to understand the value of our lobbyist roles. In the interim, though, we need you to engage in this process. You play an important part because they directly represent you, their constituents, from their home districts. That means participating in our annual Dealer Day at the Capitol and attending other meetings with legislators throughout the year.

Another critical part of the political process is your VADA political action committee. PAC giving allows VADA to speak with one, unified voice in support of candidates who understand the value you bring to their constituents and the need for pro-business legislation.

While your VADA PAC helps in that regard, you also should be personally supporting your local Delegate and Senator.

After the 2020 legislative session closes, we’ll be turning our attention to helping you deepen connections with your local legislators. We want you to tell them the stories that impact your business and why you care about today’s issues.

Not only are we seeing a new style of legislator, but we are seeing the emergence of new topics, particularly with labor and environmental issues. New laws in these areas would directly impact your daily business.

Don’t sit on the sideline while those discussions happen without you.

NADA Show & Virginia Auto Show

I look forward to seeing many of you at the annual NADA Show, which runs Feb. 14-17 in Las Vegas. In particular, on Feb. 14, I hope you plan to stop by Beer Park, where you will get to spend time with your VADA colleagues – as well as those from the Maryland Auto Dealers Association and the Washington Area New Auto Dealers Association.

The NADA Show presents many wonderful opportunities for you to network with peers. It’s also an amazing tool for meeting with vendors and getting insights on the latest tools and products to help you enhance your business.

Meanwhile, back in Richmond, many of my VADA colleagues will be attending the Virginia International Auto Show, set for Feb. 14-16 at the Greater Richmond Convention Center. Don’t miss this great resource for developing sales leads.

In this issue

As always, we have some great stories to share with you in this issue: