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Opinion

Political Activism and the Bottom Line Proposed Legislation of Significant Impact

Ninety-seven years ago in October 1920, a small group of independent tire dealers got together and decided that the time had come to form a national association. With the accelerated growth of the auto industry, tire dealers nationwide realized they needed their business interests fostered and protected.

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Ninety-seven years ago in October 1920, a small group of independent tire dealers got together and decided that the time had come to form a national association.

With the accelerated growth of the auto industry, tire dealers nationwide realized they needed their business interests fostered and protected.

The first resolutions adopted by this new association, the National Tire Dealer Association (now the Tire Industry Association), addressed industry and legislative needs.

Since that day back in 1920, many decades and many dealers have passed into the merits of history, yet the mission envisioned long ago by our founders has endured through the ensuing generations.

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President Donald J. Trump thus far has used executive orders to address Obamacare, cut regulations, boost energy exploration, and adopt a far more aggressive trade-enforcement posture.

We are experiencing a resurgence for the Republican Party. Far from falling off a cliff with Donald Trump as their standard bearer, Republicans now enjoy complete control of the federal government (the presidency, a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, a majority of the U.S. Senate, almost two-thirds of all U.S. state governors, total control of the state houses in almost two-thirds of all states, and the ability to add a majority of the Supreme Court).

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This political domination has never happened to this extent in American history.

If the president follows through on his campaign pledges to restore American manufacturing, rebuild the country’s infrastructure, strengthen its military, defend Social Security and Medicare, and reform healthcare, the passage or defeat of key pending legislative proposals over the next year will have a significant impact on small businesses, tire dealers and retreaders for the foreseeable future.

Issues worth your involvement include the following:

• Repeal the Estate Tax – Arguably the most important bill for independent dealers and retreaders, repealing the Estate Tax would allow small business owners to pass on their business to a family member without a crippling tax.

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• Fair Labor Standards Act – This act will determine if salaried manager and assistant managers have to be paid time-and-a-half for hours worked in excess of 40 hours a week.

• Infrastructure Funding – Will the FET be reinstated on passenger tires and retread rubber? Such a fee would require dealers to pay a floor stock tax on inventory, increase inventory costs, affect cash flow, and add burdensome paperwork requirements.

• Marketplace Fairness Act – Will state sales tax be applied to online tire, truck parts and auto part sales? At a time when this industry is moving to more online sales, we believe it is unfair for dealers to have to compete with out of state online competition that may avoid state sales tax.

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• Tariffs on Chinese Tire Imports – Will tariffs protect retreaders or help or hurt commercial tire dealers? Domestic retreaders cannot compete with new imports subsidized by foreign governments. Yet many commercial dealers like to have a lower priced option to offer.

• Work Opportunity Tax Credit  Will Congress extend the WOTC, allowing dealers a tax break for hiring targeted work groups, such as returning veterans? Tire dealers as a group use WOTC to attract disadvantaged workers and are allowed an attractive tax credit.

• OSHA Inspections – Will OSHA continue the stepped up inspections, and continue to excessively fine dealers for inconsequential violations? As I travel to state conventions, I am amazed to hear about the number of OSHA inspections taking place. Dealers are being fined for very minor violations that could be easily and quickly addressed.

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• NHTSA Regulations – How will the new regulations on registration and recall affect the cost and burden of selling tires? Will the new regulation impose significant fines on dealers? Technology advances should improve registration rates, but who will pay for it? It is uncertain what new regulations will be promulgated to improve recall rates. This could put significant costs and burdens on both dealers and manufacturers.

This is a time above all for active dealer engagement. The need for your involvement has never been greater.  You are the experts. Nobody can tell your story as you can.

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Whether it is tire registration and recall, infrastructure funding, online sales, national accounts, tire tariffs, Superfund cleanup sites, healthcare, LIFO repeal, tire aging, used tire sales, social legislation addressing everything from paid leave, overtime regulations, and minimum wage, and OSHA and IRS audits, I believe passionately that active, visible, and respected industry, state, regional, and national associations that represent hard-working small businesses (the backbone of the American economic system) must find new and better ways to address the myriad of political challenges facing our industry.

As TIA approaches its 100th anniversary in 2020, we as an association have never been stronger, larger or more financially strong.

It’s been close to 100 years. Many of the challenges are similar to what they were 1920.  Government decisions can affect your business. Become politically involved. Tell your story. Continue to make a positive difference; it will impact your bottom line.

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