SEMA Washington Rally to Bring Together Lawmakers, Aftermarket Industry

SEMA and PRI members will meet with their representatives to talk about key issues affecting the industry, including collision repair.

SEMA CEO Mike Spagnola, left, with U.S. Sen. Ted Budd, R-NC.

The SEMA and PRI Washington Rally, scheduled for May 8-9 in Washington, D.C., will bring together SEMA and PRI member companies to advocate on behalf of the specialty-automotive aftermarket and motorsports-parts industries with members of Congress.

The event schedule includes networking opportunities and a car show, but most important are two blocks of time to meet with lawmakers in both the U.S. House and Senate and their staff, to discuss key issues and legislative initiatives designed to address them.

“The Washington Rally is so important because it gives our members a chance to reinforce existing relationships with their representatives and build new ones,” said Eric Snyder, senior director of federal government affairs for SEMA.

“No one can tell your story better than you,” Snyder said. “It’s so valuable to have members of Congress and their staff know SEMA members personally, and really understand what they do.”

Shelley Moore CapitoU.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-WV, speaks at a lunch held during the Washington Rally in 2022.

Snyder said the rally is “an important component of our advocacy on behalf of the industry,” and has been held every two years since 1996.

As of April 11, about 75 SEMA and PRI members from across the U.S. were registered to attend the rally.

Snyder said the meetings will be almost exclusively with the lawmakers who represent the SEMA and PRI members registered to attend, though they will also meet with some lawmakers who sit on committees that have jurisdiction over the important issues.

“It will be a real mix of lawmakers,” he said.

Several issues to be discussed directly affect the collision repair industry, including Right to Repair, tax incentives and zero-emission vehicle mandates at the state and federal levels.

Right to Repair

“Right to Repair is definitely a top priority and something our members will be talking to lawmakers about,” Snyder said.

Snyder said members will be “giving a push” for the REPAIR Act, which seeks to ensure vehicle owners and independent repairers have access to vehicle data, to maintain owners’ ability to have their vehicles serviced by the repairer of their choice, rather than be forced to go to a dealership service center.

Last fall, the REPAIR Act, which has 50 bipartisan co-sponsors, unanimously advanced out of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Innovation, Data, and Commerce.

Snyder said it will also be important to ensure any legislation addressing Right to Repair provides protections to companies that produce and install parts that modify vehicles as well.

Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act

Another “top of mind” topic will be the Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act, H.R. 7024, a bill that would renew key tax incentives that help businesses of all sizes.

The bill aims to alleviate financial strains faced by independent repair shops, grappling with rapid technological advancements and an evolving automotive landscape, as they will need to continue to invest in facility and equipment upgrades, some of which may require taking on debt.

It allows for the reinstatement of the expensing of research and development (R&D) and investments in equipment, reduces reporting for small businesses using subcontractors, increases the small business expensing cap by nearly 30% and expands the Child Tax Credit through 2025.

The bill passed the U.S. House in January with bipartisan support by a margin of 357 to 70, and currently awaits consideration in the Senate Finance Committee.

ZEV Mandates

Snyder said SEMA has been active in pushing back on proposed state and federal laws mandating a certain percentage of new vehicles sold be zero-emission vehicles.

SEMA believes in protecting consumers’ choice to own a vehicle with the power source of their choice, but such mandates also affect the mix of vehicles coming into repair shops, and the equipment and training considerations that must be taken into account.

“That will be a major topic of discussion in our meetings,” he said.

Cars at the Capitol

On May 9, Cars at the Capitol will be held, showcasing nine modified vehicles in front of the U.S. Capitol building on Maryland Avenue.

Snyder said the “unique and personalized” vehicles were modified using products manufactured by SEMA and PRI members, highlighting the breadth of the aftermarket industry.

“This will give lawmakers a firsthand look at the industry and what it does,” Snyder said. “It’s the aftermarket in all its glory.”

With the 2024 presidential election heating up and the balance of power in both the House and Senate up for grabs, it's more important than ever for SEMA and PRI members to come to Washington, D.C., to advocate for the industry.

For more information on the Washington Rally, contact Snyder at

Abby Andrews

Abby Andrews is the editor and regular columnist of Autobody News.

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