Weekly Legislative Update November 30, 2020

TIA Defends Newly Passed Right to Repair to Members of Congress

Dear Chairman Shelby, Ranking Member Leahy, Chairwoman Collins, and Ranking Member Reed,

We are a diverse coalition of stakeholders in the motor vehicle repair and maintenance sector. On behalf of our collective industries, we are writing to share our thoughts on the Senate draft of the FY2021 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations bill, telematics, and Right to Repair efforts in Massachusetts.

Thank you for noting the current debate over telematics by including language in the explanatory statement for the THUD bill which encourages the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to work with stakeholders on this issue. We welcome the opportunity to work with NHTSA and other agencies to demonstrate to the Agency, Congress, and other parties that the independent aftermarket can access vehicle data safely and securely. Technology that ensures the cybersecure access to data for owners and their authorized repair shops already exists, and the independent aftermarket continues to lead and innovate on this front.

In addition to thanking you for the language in the THUD bill, we call your attention to the overwhelming Right to Repair victory that took place in Massachusetts on behalf of vehicle owners in the commonwealth. We urge the authorizing committees within Congress to consider federal legislation similar to the Massachusetts referendum in the 117th Congress. On November 3rd, a ballot referendum (known as Question 1) in Massachusetts passed by a tremendous margin (75 percent to 25 percent), demonstrating the determination of the commonwealth’s citizens to have access to their vehicles’ repair data. The initiative will require vehicle manufacturers to provide control of mechanical data to vehicle owners and further permits owners to authorize repair shops to access mechanical data directly from their vehicle. This will allow owners continued access to the competitive repair industry, providing consumer choice based on price, location, quality of work and other factors.

We are concerned about and disagree with vehicle manufacturer claims that allowing the independent aftermarket and repair industry access to vehicle generated data is a safety risk. Consumers rely on regular maintenance and service, as well as repair of their vehicles, to ensure that their vehicles are a safe and reliable mode of transportation. The current average age of a vehicle on the road is almost 12 years. The industries we collectively represent are committed to ensuring the safety of vehicles we service and have decades of experience doing just that.

In closing, we thank you for the THUD report language and reiterate our request for the authorizing committees within Congress to act in the next session to institute a federal standard for vehicle data access consistent with what was passed in Massachusetts. This can be done in such a way that sets cybersecurity requirements for vehicle manufacturers that ensure safety without unduly preventing a competitive repair market. This issue is of significant consequence to consumers across the country, and we believe policymakers and stakeholders must take a holistic approach to the issue. We look forward to working with you, NHTSA, the automakers, and all other parties to ensure and protect the safety of vehicles and consumers rights to vehicle repair data.

Sincerely,

TIA and other trade associations

TIA Sends Letter to Congress Supporting COVID Related Relief and Support for Small Businesses

Dear Speaker Pelosi and Leaders McConnell, Schumer, and McCarthy:

The undersigned organizations represent small businesses in every sector of the economy, and we are writing to ask for swift, post-election action to support America’s small businesses with much needed additional relief. Our small business members are desperately struggling to survive the COVID-19 pandemic and are facing an uncertain winter marketplace. Thus, we are specifically asking you to expeditiously enact legislation which would allow businesses to access a second Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan with tax deductibility and streamlined forgiveness.

First, we urge support for a PPP second draw. The PPP was a historically successful relief measure, and we commend you for its formulation and speed to market. But it is now clear that nearly all PPP proceeds have been used: according to the NFIB Research Center, 90% of PPP borrowers have spent their entire PPP loan, and they face difficult choices every day the pandemic continues. A recent survey of the hotel industry found that 98% would use a second PPP loan and 71% percent said they feared they would be forced to close within the next 6 months without additional federal relief. Furthermore, the recent spike in COVID-19 cases and resulting government shutdowns make it a moral imperative that the federal government provide additional relief to help small businesses survive these shutdowns.

The PPP was uniquely crafted to allow small businesses fast access to capital at the outset of this crisis, and it remains the best solution to provide relief a second time. PPP should also be expanded to small business that are structured as 501(c)6 or quasigovernmental destination marketing organizations (DMOs) who were left out of PPP. As our country returns to normal and restarts business and leisure travel, these organizations will be vital economic redevelopment drivers across the country – but they must first survive the pandemic.

We also urge Congress to lighten the tax burden of existing PPP recipients in two ways. Our members call on Congress to enact full tax deductibility for PPP loans, which is consistent with congressional intent. There are multiple bipartisan bills that would clarify PPP recipients that secure forgiveness can deduct business expenses paid by the PPP loan from their taxes. Congress should also simplify forgiveness for the smallest PPP borrowers. As you know, the smallest businesses received the smallest PPP loans, and thus we hope Congress can relieve the loan forgiveness burden for recipients of loans totaling $150,000 or less by including the “Paycheck Protection Small Business Forgiveness Act” (S. 4117/H.R. 7777) in any relief measure that advances.

Small businesses are struggling throughout the country during this unprecedented health and economic crisis. With the election now behind us, our members are desperately calling on Congress to act. It is unconscionable that there is more than $130 billion still available in the PPP loan program, yet small businesses and their employees are unable to access those critical funds because of congressional inaction. We urge you to provide a lifeline for small businesses facing insolvency, closure, and layoffs from what has become a prolonged economic crisis due to the pandemic.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

TIA and other trade associations