Leveling the Playing Field

Anthony Portantino's Vision for ZEV Aftermarket Earns Recognition at SEMA Show

During the 2023 SEMA Show, the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) presented its Stephen B. McDonald Lawmaker of the Year Award to California State Senator Anthony Portantino for his work on SB 301, the Zero-Emission Aftermarket Conversion Project.

SB 301 is a groundbreaking bill, which currently awaits a final vote by the Assembly, that would create new opportunities for SEMA members. The bill would provide financial assistance to Californians to convert their gasoline-powered vehicles to zero-emission vehicles.

California has multiple programs to promote the purchase of new ZEVs, but none assist with ZEV conversions of gas-powered vehicles. SB 301 would fill this gap, making it more affordable for Californians to convert their existing vehicles to ZEVs.

SB 301 has won the backing of business and environmental groups alike. The California Manufacturing and Technology Association (CMTA), the Los Angeles Business Federation (LA BizFed), the California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce, BREATHE California, and CALSTART have all endorsed the bill. The California Chamber of Commerce (CalChamber) has also labeled SB 301 as a "Job Creator."

During a tour of the 2023 SEMA Show, California Senator Anthony Portantino was interviewed by NHRA, which is based in his district. During the conversation, he touched upon a crucial aspect of technological advancement: the role of policymakers in fostering innovation. Senator Portantino emphasized that instead of favoring specific technologies, lawmakers should focus on creating a level playing field where diverse innovations can flourish. "We as policymakers sometimes get pushed between what technology we should embrace," he stated. "I think one of the things that I'm walking away from here (the 2023 SEMA Show) is that we shouldn't be picking the winners. We should be helping all of them compete against each other." This approach, he believes, will lead to a more dynamic and inclusive technological landscape, where the best ideas have the opportunity to thrive.

"Senator Portantino is a true champion for SEMA members and the aftermarket industry," said Christian Robinson, Senior Director of State Government Affairs & Grassroots at SEMA. "He understands the importance of the aftermarket industry to California's economy and the role that SEMA members play in developing new technologies to reduce emissions and make vehicles more fun to drive."

"SB 301 is a groundbreaking bill that would create new opportunities for SEMA members," Robinson continued. "The bill would create new demand for aftermarket parts and services, and SEMA members would be well-positioned to meet that demand."

SEMA supports all of the above vehicle technology approaches, including the aftermarket expansion for ZEVs. SEMA opposes the government choosing winners and losers in the marketplace, including California's 2035 ban on new gas- and diesel-powered cars and trucks.  SEMA believes that Californians and their families should be able to choose what type of vehicle is best suited for their needs.

Senator Anthony Portantino represents California's 25th State Senate District, which stretches along the 210 Freeway from Sunland/Tujunga to Upland.  Senator Portantino currently serves as the Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Before his years in the legislature, he worked in film and television production, served on the California Film Commission, and spent nearly eight years on the La Cañada Flintridge City Council, with two terms as Mayor.

Senator Portantino grew up in New Jersey, where he attended public schools and graduated from Albright College in Reading, Pennsylvania, where he met his future wife, Ellen, a longtime business executive at Warner Brothers and Disney.  They have two daughters.



Gearhead, Lawmaker, and Baja 1000 Racer

Delegate Kevin Hornberger, Chairman of SEMA's State Automotive Enthusiast Leadership Caucus, is a true gearhead at heart. As a lawmaker, he has been a champion for automotive enthusiasts in his home state of Maryland. From introducing legislation to ease the registration of classic cars to fighting against California's gas-powered car ban, Hornberger has consistently shown his dedication to keeping the roads open for car lovers.

Hornberger's passion for cars is evident in his own garage, which houses a collection of vintage vehicles, including a 1986 Oldsmobile Cutlass 442 T-Top, a 1967 Chevy RSS Camaro, a 1965 GMC, and a 1977 GMC Jimmy. The latest addition to his collection is a 1974 Chevy Blazer K5, which made its debut at the 2023 SEMA Show before being put to the test at the 2023 SCORE Baja 1000.


Lawmaker Recognizes an Iconic 75th Anniversary

Have you heard?  Hot Rod Magazine is turning 75 this year, and the big news is spreading!  During the 2023 SEMA Show, California Assemblymember Marie Waldron presented a special resolution from the state Assembly honoring the magazine's incredible legacy.  In fact, she is a regular at the Las Vegas event along with fellow members of the SEMA-supported State Automotive Enthusiast Leadership Caucus.  Check out the link below for more on her own impressive automotive contribution to last year's Show.

A big shoutout to Assemblywoman Waldron for recognizing our passion for speed and style on four wheels!



Golden State Lawmaker Visits Automotive Wonderland

California Assemblymember Diane Dixon was among 30 state lawmakers who made the trek to Las Vegas for the 2023 SEMA Show.  These elected officials underscored the growing bipartisan support for the specialty automotive aftermarket industry.  During the visit, Assemblymember Dixon met with constituents from her district that were exhibiting on the show floor, including the Performance Racing Industry (PRI) based in Aliso Viejo, CA.  A highlight of the experience was a personal ride-along in a drift car at the Shell Performance Unbound display.  Check out her excitement in the following social media post: