Dale Amy
October 7, 2010

Keep in mind that this topic is not limited to Washington, though. While the federal government issues national rules dictating vehicle safety and emissions equipment, most other issues are handled at the state and local levels. By speaking out on issues that concern the automotive hobby, contacting our representatives, and working constructively with government officials, we have the power to protect our passion and keep it safe for future generations of auto hobbyists and enthusiasts.

When legislatures are out of session, representatives are in their home districts and typically have more time to meet casually with their constituents. Contacting them can have a tremendous impact by raising their awareness of issues that could impact our hobby during the next session. To get you started, we have prepared 10 tips you can use when contacting your representatives:

1. Develop and Maintain Relationships with Your Legislators and Their Staff
Make contact and develop productive relationships with individual legislators. It is the most effective form of grassroots lobbying. It's also important to develop a relationship with their staff who monitor ongoing legislative and community initiatives.

2. Educate Legislators About Our Hobby and Our Issues
Educate your legislator about the hobby and emphasize the positive impact it has on the community.

3. Maintain a Positive Attitude
Develop a positive relationship with your legislator. The next time an enthusiast-related issue comes up, that same legislator may be needed to support your cause.

4. Stay Informed
Keep up-to-date on the legislative issues that affect the hobby in your state. Share this information with fellow enthusiasts.

5. Get Involved in the Community
Join with other community groups to build positive exposure. Holding charity runs and fundraisers provides a great opportunity to show local residents and politicians that auto clubs are a positive community force.

6. Build Relationships with the Local Media
Contact local newspapers and radio/TV stations to publicize car shows, charity events, and more.

7. Invite Officials to Participate in Your Events
Give legislators a platform to reach an audience of constituents.

8. Build an Automotive Coalition
Create coalitions to build strength in numbers and ensure that the rights of all vehicle enthusiasts are represented. Actively participating in regional and statewide councils will develop a unified message to lawmakers. These types of pro-hobbyist groups can be an influential political force.

9. Spread the Word
Take this information to your next club meeting, cruise night, or post it on your online forums. Share this information with other enthusiasts who are willing to help lobby for the hobby.

10. Register to Vote
Exercise your right to support pro-hobby candidates. Constituents are an elected official's number-one priority. Without you and your vote of support, they would not be in office, so make sure you're registered and get out and vote.

The future of our hobby depends on you. The ballot box is one venue for making your views known. We also urge you to work collectively with your fellow enthusiasts. How? You can join the SEMA Action Network (it's free), which keeps you informed about pending legislation and regulations-both good and bad-that will impact your state or the entire country. It also provides you with action alerts, speaking points, and lawmaker contact information if you want to support or oppose a bill. Just visit www.semasan.com for more information.