PUT A LEGISLATOR IN YOUR TOOLBOX!
By West Virginia Delegate Gary Howell
State Lawmakers Nationwide Steer Hobby's Future
Do you have a toolbox? The answer for nearly all of us is a resounding yes, but how many of us have a lawmaker in that tool box? As car enthusiasts, we're often confronted by well-meaning yet ill-informed lawmakers that want to prevent reasonable modifications to our cars. Often, a simple conversation with a constituent like you will set them straight and stop bad legislation in its tracks. So, maybe it's time you put a legislator in your tool box.
If you were on the 2014 Hot Rod Power Tour, you may have noticed a red, white and blue '99 Jeep Cherokee XJ with a Skyjacker 4.5-in. Rock Ready lift, Ares Fab bumpers and a 12,000-lb. winch rolling on 30x9.50s (shown above). You may also have noticed that the Jeep carried legislative license plates. That was my Jeep, and I am not just a hot rodder; I am also a member of the West Virginia State Legislature.
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As a precursor to the national celebration of Collector Car Appreciation Day (CCAD) that we know today, Nevada legislators passed a joint resolution recognizing the last week of April as "Collector Car Week." Taken in 1995, the photograph above shows legislators and hobbyists behind the effort with a copy of the official document. Pictured from left to right: Nevada Car Club Council (NCCC) President Don Nisley, "Hot August Nights" Board Director Al Oppio, Nevada Car Owners Association, Inc. (NCOA) President Jim Sohns, NCOA member Darlene Phellps, Assemblymember Sharon Engle and lobbyist Stan Warren.
Jim Sohns is a passionate automotive enthusiast who lets his actions speak louder than his words. This gearhead's journey has taken him from Hawaii, where he was once a police officer, to Las Vegas, Nevada, en route to his current home in St James, Minnesota. A critical turning point in his life occurred in 1991, when Jim was asked to serve as president of the Nevada Car Owners Association, Inc. At the time, rabid classic car collectors like him had their hands full with vehicle scrappage programs, emissions testing, inoperable projects stored on private property, fuel supplements and other threats to vintage vehicles.
To combat acts he felt were unjustified, Sohns took a series of steps aimed at building a positive image for the car enthusiast community. These measures included hosting monthly meetings, newsletter publication, talk radio appearances and inviting lawmakers to hobbyist functions. Jim even coordinated a car show with Al Oppio of "Hot August Nights" on the grounds of the state capitol in Carson City during each legislative session. By organizing automotive gatherings at schools, Sohns promoted the goodwill and camaraderie inherent in the hobby to the community's youth. As a result of his experiences, Sohns was asked to advise county departments and committees. As he states, "This is a continued fight for our car rights!" That fact is certain, Jim, and your long-time commitment to the betterment of car enthusiasts everywhere is truly an inspiration!
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