RESTON, Va.—The Tire Association of North America has announced two new government affairs initiatives in anticipation of heightened legislative and regulatory activity affecting the tire industry.
The first is a new online legislative service allowing TANA members to track tire industry legislation, examine congressional voting records and e-mail their views to representatives by means of a new government affairs section of the group's Web site—www.tana.net.
The Reston-based trade group also launched a Political Action Committee—TirePAC—to further enhance its government-affairs efforts.
While introducing the association's new Web-based government affairs service, TANA President Tom Wright said that "with a click of a mouse, members can see how legislation may impact their business and then immediately e-mail the appropriate legislators on Capitol Hill."
After keying in a zip code at the Web site, users instantly receive information about their representatives in Congress and an update on legislation affecting the tire industry.
The user can then click on their representatives' e-mail addresses and, by following the TANA-suggested "talking points" presented on the screen, create and send an e-mail letter that is delivered immediately.
"This new service is powered by one of the most comprehensive and effective Web-based congressional software packages on the market today," said TANA Director of Government Affairs Rebecca "Becky" MacDicken, who was hired in May.
"By providing a great resource for government affairs information and advocacy, we're making it easy for tire dealers to become directly involved in the political process," she said.
The Web-based service and political action committee are the latest in a series of efforts to boost TANA's influence on Capital Hill—particularly in view of the barrage of potential regulation that has followed Bridgestone/Firestone Inc.'s recent recall of 6.5 million Firestone tires.
TANA's legislative efforts, headed by Ms. MacDicken, played a "major role" in persuading Congress to narrow the scope of criminal penalties applying to tire dealers and retreaders in the final bill—H.R. 5164, which was passed by the U.S. House and Senate in October, and now awaits a presidential signature.
The original bill proposed in the Senate included broad criminal penalties for dealers, retreaders and tire manufacturers and would have subjected dealers and retreaders to prison sentences of up to five years had a customer been injured in an accident linked to a tire that was known to be unsafe at the time it was sold.
The legislation also would have opened the floodgates to costly product liability lawsuits against dealers, retreaders and tire makers, TANA said. Due in no small part to its legislative efforts, the group noted, the bill that was finally passed no longer included the sweeping criminal penalties that were objectionable.
In fact, Senator Henry Waxman, D-Calif., a strong proponent of the tougher Senate bill, criticized the final wording of the measure as likely to "have no meaningful impact."
Mr. Waxman has vowed to introduce more stringent legislation during the coming 107th Congressional session.