While NADA's efforts on Capitol Hill last year were focused on keeping dealers' doors open through the COVID-19 pandemic, plenty of emerging legislative issues under the Biden administration have the association shifting gears in 2021.
"Let me be clear: Protection of dealer franchise laws is our top legislative priority," Patrick Calpin, the association's director of grassroots advocacy, said Wednesday during a workshop discussion highlighting the association's lobbying efforts in Washington.
As Congress considers a federal framework for autonomous vehicles and other legislation related to electric vehicles, Calpin said NADA will work to ensure state dealer franchise and licensing laws are preserved.
"Proponents of both AV legislation and/or possible electric vehicle legislation may attempt again to preempt these state franchise laws, or they may attempt to attach it to a broader 'must pass' highway bill that's expected later this year," he said.
The topic of vehicle recalls is also important on Capitol Hill, with Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Edward Markey of Massachusetts likely to reintroduce a bill that would "halt a dealer's sale, lease, wholesale or loan of any used vehicle under an open recall," Calpin explained. Lawmakers may insert that into the highway bill as well, he noted.
NADA opposes the effort, calling a proposal to ground all used vehicles under recall "unnecessary" and "overly broad."
With a narrow majority in Congress until at least 2023, Democratic lawmakers will likely make tax policy a high priority.
"Dealers need to remain vigilant now and aware of possible tax increases, including in areas such as individual rates, LIFO recapture, advertising deductibility and floorplan financing deductibility," Calpin said.
Meanwhile, environmental policy has taken center stage under the new administration, with President Joe Biden calling for the electrification of all 645,000 federal government vehicles, a review of vehicle emissions standards and investments in charging infrastructure, among other ambitious plans to mitigate climate change and support a clean-energy economy in the U.S.
To encourage the adoption of EVs, Biden has said he supports providing rebates to consumers swapping out less-efficient vehicles with U.S.-made electric models.
"Rest assured, whatever comes of the EV incentive, NADA will make sure that it is simple, it is transparent and that dealers get funded quickly," Calpin said. "It needs to work in the showroom."