NADA's agenda: Cut red tape, watch Washington
New chief Westcott will monitor impact of legislation
New NADA chairman David Westcott: “The new health care law is a concern for all businesses, big and small. NADA’s goal is to work toward a health care policy that lets us take care of our employees and not bankrupt us in the process.”
Photo credit: JOE WILSSENS
ORLANDO -- The new chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Association will keep a close eye on how new health care and lending laws are implemented and also wants NADA to find ways to cut red tape affecting dealerships, he said during his inaugural speech.
David Westcott, 66, who sells Buick, GMC and Suzuki vehicles at a single store in Burlington, N.C., said NADA will advocate for dealers on major legislative proposals, such as the tax-code talks expected on Capitol Hill this year.
The group also will keep an eye on the impact of lending laws passed in 2010, even though the association persuaded Congress to exempt most new-car dealerships from the reach of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Westcott said at the closing session of last week's annual convention.
Future rules for dealers' lenders could "threaten our vehicle financing model," he said, referencing concerns among dealers that regulators might seek to limit finance and insurance profits in an attempt to aid car buyers.
Westcott said NADA also will focus on health care rules that go into effect Jan. 1.
Under the Affordable Healthcare Act passed in 2010, companies employing more than 50 people will need to provide health insurance to employees or pay penalties. That will force many dealers to decide this year whether to provide coverage, and if so, what services to offer.
"The new health care law is a concern for all businesses, big and small," Westcott said. "NADA's goal is to work toward a health care policy that lets us take care of our employees and not bankrupt us in the process."
If Westcott gets his way, dealers also will be spared from signing forms to verify that they haven't tampered with the emissions control equipment on the cars they sell.
After a year in which NADA's chief legislative achievement was scrapping a rarely-used booklet on insurance costs, Westcott's remarks suggested the group will keep looking for uncontroversial steps Washington can take to make it easier to do business.
"Seriously, has anyone here ever gotten a car from the factory that didn't have a muffler?" Westcott asked the audience Monday, Feb. 11.
Under the Clean Air Act, signed into law in 1970, a car dealer may not remove a catalytic converter from a car or tamper with its exhaust system in any way that leads to more air pollution. In 1981, after instances in which emission control equipment had been modified to improve performance or fuel economy, the EPA began requiring dealers to sign a form for every car sold, affirming that they follow the rules.
Bailey Wood, a spokesman for NADA, said the group is not trying to loosen clean air laws. But of the form that dealers must sign, he said: "It has been made obsolete because all auto dealers comply with the law with little or no problem."
You can reach Gabe Nelson at email@example.com.