The 2021 General Assembly session convened this month, and to say that things are a little bit different would be a major understatement.
Ensuring that the legislators understand our industry and the impact that proposed legislation could have on your business – for good or bad – is a primary function of your VADA team. And being successful on this front relies on the relationships that we have built and continue to build and nurture with Senators and Delegates from every locality on your behalf.
The session opened Jan. 13 and is scheduled to last only 30 days. Already, we’re aware of several expected bills to be introduced that could change your business and how you operate. One of the most pressing aims to align Virginia’s support of electric vehicles (EVs) and clean emissions with regulations in California; we outlined our position and the need for a comprehensive study leading to informed recommendations in 2022 in a recent letter to legislative leaders. You also might want to read a recent commentary I authored in the Richmond Times-Dispatch recommending that Virginia provide incentives for those buying EVs.
Another proposed bill would allow localities to prevent test drives in residential neighborhoods, potentially impacting anyone driving on dealer tags in those areas. Of course, we also anticipate bills with peripheral impacts on the day-to-day business of running your dealerships, and we’ll keep you informed on every critical bill at every step through our weekly Capitol Briefs emails.
Due to the ongoing pandemic, the House of Delegates will be meeting remotely from their home districts, while the Senate will be sequestered in Richmond. Without the opportunity for in-person meetings, including our always effective Dealer Day at the Capitol, we will be relying increasingly on written communications, including letters and emails.
And we will need your help in telling our full story in this unprecedented time. VADA will continue to provide testimony on key legislation, but we’ll be limited to 2 minutes of virtual presentations. In my three-plus decades in sharing VADA’s position and insights, I’ve never been so restricted on discussing issues that impact the lives of the more than 60,000 people that work in and around dealerships and the 1.5 million people who buy cars in our Commonwealth each year.
This is going to be a different world. With streamlined channels, we already have heard from some legislators who are only taking written messages from residents in their jurisdiction. That means we will increasingly be asking you to reach out and help educate your state representatives with the dealers’ positions on pending legislation, so that decisions aren’t made in a vacuum without consideration of their implications. We will support you with key messaging and contact information, and we need to activate smartly and efficiently at the grassroots level once again to be effective.
Your Support Drives Your Future
In Virginia, 2021 is a significant election year, as citizens will vote for their next Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, and all 100 members of the House of Delegates. While the executive leaders fill four-year terms, the delegates are elected for two-year terms.
During the past year, as you navigated through the many, many challenges of operating in a pandemic, we stepped back on our requests for support for the Virginia Auto & Truck Dealers Political Action Committee. Fortunately, we saw most dealers close 2020 with some of their best years on record. We want to applaud VADA Chairman Tom Bates of RK Chevrolet for his guidance in helping all members during this time.
With the changes under way politically both nationally and within the Commonwealth, it’s more important than ever to support candidates who are pro-business and pro-dealer. As your collective voice in Richmond, VADA is committed to helping candidates – both incumbents and those seeking their first statewide office – understand your business and the issues that are critical for you to operate successfully for both Virginians as customers and employees, not to mention as an industry that generates significant tax revenue.
We ask that every dealer support the PAC by joining the Governor’s Club, which is a $2,000 investment for the first year and $1,500 each subsequent year. We also encourage you to follow the leadership of Mike Beyer, owner of the Beyer Automotive Group, and John Altman, the group’s chief operating officer. They inspired every senior manager across the group to support the PAC.
Frankly, that’s what every senior manager should be doing, because what goes on in the legislature impacts their livelihood today, tomorrow, and into the future.
In This Issue
Certainly, for January and February, our focus will be on legislative outreach during the 2021 session. However, we also have other important stories in our monthly issue. Be sure to take a moment to review these articles:
- A new Allied Member, Commonwealth Document Services, can help you manage shredding and archiving dealership records in accordance with regulatory and insurance requirements.
- We plan to return to an in-person VADA Annual Convention at The Omni Homestead this year
- Find out more about synthetic identify fraud, a side effect of increased digital sales.
- Learn how to dispel the “Big Lie” about electric cars, which Virginia dealers do support.