Thursday, 31 May 2001 17:00

Speier predicts new laws on crash parts and steering

California State Senator Jackie Speier (D - San Francisco/San Mateo) predicted that "there will be a battle in the legislature over quality crash parts" within the next year and that she may be "promulgating rules on anti-steering," an issue on which she expects State Insurance Commissioner Harry W. Low to take an aggressive attitude. 

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State Senator Jackie Speier with CAA officers (L to R) Don Feeley Jr., Warwick Bryan, Kelly Roe, Jackie Speier, Peter Hurwicz, John Sutherland and Yumi Vaught.
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CAA's trade show, Autobody Expo, raises part of the funds the group needs to lobby effectively in Sacramento.

Speier, speaking to a sell-out luncheon crowd at California Autobody Association's Autobody Expo 2001 in Ontario on May 18, added, "I sense there will be a significant change in how business will be done."

Speier, who last year sponsored a successful insurance anti-fraud bill with controversial DRP provisions, SB98, is chairperson of the California State Senate Insurance Committee where she takes a particularly active role in anything regarding managed care by insurers - both medical HMOs and auto body DRPs. She advocated "returning medicine to physicians who want to heal" and suggested that repairing collision damaged vehicles ought to be left to body shops and not insurance companies. Speier observed that, "Insurers would like to own the business to repair cars for obvious reasons." Her comments seem almost prophetic when viewed in the context of the Allstate's purchase of Sterling Collision that occurred only a week later.

Sen. Speier indicated a concern over salvage vehicles that are "being repaired by an underground economy" and said she is considering legislation to protect consumers against these often dangerously repaired cars and trucks.

Speier made a plea for more participation in government by small business owners as she praised the efforts of CAA in working with her office. "Legislating requires participation," said Speier. "Your participation was mandatory (in passing SB98)." She called CAA lobbyist Jack Molodanof, "Professional, ethical and direct," and said that former CAA President Rick Johnson was "dignified and effective" in his testimony before her committee.

Seminars well attended
The paid seminars put on by the Automotive Management Institute were very well attended according to AMI's California sales manager, Fred Sullivan. Attendance at the free seminars offered Friday and Saturday was spotty at best.

Exhibitors reported good crowds on the floor Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, but other show hours were slow. "We had about 100 exhibitors on the floor," said trade show chairman John Sutherland. "The slowing economy hurt us, as some exhibitors didn't take as much space as they did last year."

A highlight of Autobody Expo 2001 was the education day held on Friday. Education chairman Gene Lopez said that about 200 vo-tech high school students attended the afternoon of activities designed to introduce them to the industry.

Sutherland and next year's chairwoman, Yumi Vaught, met with exhibitors on Saturday morning to get their input on future trade shows. There was strong sentiment that the show should be moved back to the Disneyland Hotel or to some other venue that would be more likely than Ontario to draw crowds. Vaught also promised to consider suggestions on how to attract younger workers to the show and putting more "fun things" on the trade show floor.

On the show floor, a positive note on the industry was sounded by Art Gustarsen of the Bureau of Automotive Repair. Asked if he sees less or more fraud in the collision repair industry today than in the past, Gustarsen replied, "I honestly think we're seeing less of it. There's more concern by shop owners. They ask us to come and speak to their people about it, and that's a big step in the right direction."


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