15 Minutes With Jim McKinney
JEFF SPRANG PHOTOGRAPHY
Ohio auto recyclers can breathe a sigh of relief - for now. They recently completed a two-year battle against state Senate Bill 273, which would create a host of problems by opening salvage auctions to unlicensed and unregulated in-state and out-of-state bidders. Fortunately for the Ohio auto recycling industry, the bill failed to pass during the most recent term. We sat down with Jim McKinney, general manager of Milliron Auto Parts, Inc. in Mansfield, Ohio, and president of the Ohio Auto Truck and Auto Recyclers (OATRA), to get the inside scoop.
Where does Senate Bill 273 stand now?
The bill passed in the Senate but it never got to the House floor for a vote. The session ran out before the bill could be presented, so it essentially died.
Is there any chance that it could gain life again?
It potentially could come back this year. This is the third time we’ve defeated this type of bill in Ohio.
How will OATRA fight it if it does?
What is most effective is to have salvage yards call their representatives to tell them why this legislation could do serious harm. If it comes back this year, we’ll need to do that and more, particularly in educating Congress about auto recycling. Our industry is so misunderstood in general. One of most effective strategies is to give a tour of our facilities and communicate that we are professional recyclers who do things the right way.
Why was standing up to this piece of legislation so important?
Recyclers are struggling in Ohio. The industry is taking a turn that it hasn’t seen since the 1970s or 1980s. We won’t be able to compete with unlicensed buyers who can purchase vehicles without worrying about covering the overhead cost of a business. We want a fair playing field.
What exactly did SB273 propose to do?
Senate Bill 273 opened salvage auctions to any bidder. That opens up a lot of problems for recyclers, who have to follow a long list of regulations, some of which are costly. Individuals don’t have to meet those same requirements, and therefore can afford to spend more than we can. In addition, if you allow unlicensed bidders, thieves could conceivably buy a wreck and use the VIN for another vehicle they stole.
How did OATRA members come together to fight this bill?
We shared information on Facebook and by e-mail, so that our members could share it with non-members. We did a lot of grassroots communication, contacting our representatives and getting a yard owner to meet with each of them. We also testified in front of committees at both the Senate and the House. We also made a video and sent it to every legislator. It showed real recyclers talking about the problem. You can view the video at http://vimeo.com/52617494.
Who got involved in fighting this legislation?
ARA was unbelievably helpful. It flew its representatives in to meet with people in Ohio and helped us draft our materials. We couldn’t have done it without them.
Do you think this is the last you’ll hear of this type of public salvage legislation?
No. the insurance and auction companies have tons of money, and they want this type of bill to pass. They can hire lots of people and lobby very vigorously. It’s not a matter of ‘if ’ the legislation will resurface. It’s just a matter of ‘when.’