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Post-Election Automotive Impact: The Results are In, Now What?

November 19, 2020
MichAuto hosted a virtual town hall with investors featuring guest speakers Ron Fournier, president of Truscott Rossman, and David Palsrok, government policy advisor for Dykema. Fournier and Palsrok shared a review of the post-election automotive impact from the federal and state levels, highlighting several changes to the new legislative body and what can be expected over the short-term. MichAuto’s Executive Director Glenn Stevens Jr. moderated the conversation and Q&A.

With the uptick in COVID-19 cases this fall, manufacturers are wondering when the automotive policy agenda may return its focus to other industry priorities. The pre-COVID-19 worker shortage has been amplified with production facilities that continue to experience high absenteeism. Compounding this issue is the immigration challenge of H1B and student visas. But these challenges may continue as, both Fournier and Palsrok agree, the pandemic will continue to take precedence into the second quarter of 2021.

Automotive manufacturers can, however, start the process of engaging new legislators as early as January. This is the time, says Fournier, to start building those relationships and communicating the issues. Palsrok agreed, referencing the 2020 Capitol Conversations that MichAuto hosted in September, bringing together industry leaders and legislators. We need to continually educate new legislators about the key issues facing our industry, especially as new legislators are elected, and redistricting occurs.

It is likely, Palsrok says, that it will be April 2021 before the focus can turn to other automotive policy agenda topics like electrification incentives, new regulations for autonomous vehicles, and filling the talent pipeline. And there will be a significant window of time before gubernatorial and Senate elections occur to push this agenda.

While debating the current situation as pessimistic or optimistic, Fournier did state that there is a “cup half full” moment right now for the automotive industry, namely because:

  • Legislators will listen because they know how important Michigan is in the race.
  • Automotive creates jobs in practically every district in this country, which is important to every lawmaker.
  • Mobility is a futuristic topic that many lawmakers can grab onto and think forward.

One dynamic among our political parties that may not change in the near term is that they are leaning further right and further left than ever before, creating a wider divide that makes bipartisan cooperation more difficult than in previous years, making our unified voice as an automotive industry even more important.