EACH YEAR, MISSOURI LEGISLATORS PUSH TO MODIFY OR DO AWAY WITH our state vehicle inspection program. This, my involvement in AASP and MWACA, time as a shop owner, and experience testifying in different related hearings over the years pushed me to make the decision to run for Missouri State Representative in 2020.
Before it was modified last year, the state vehicle inspection here in Missouri required people to get a very basic mechanical inspection on their vehicle every two years. The inspection program keeps vehicles on the road safe and in operating condition, and I believe it’s really important to maintain that. I’ve talked to technicians in neighboring states who don’t have a safety program, and they have horror stories about the poor conditions of vehicles that come into their shops.
One of the reasons why I wanted to run for office and fight for the inspection program is because I found out quickly that legislators just can't know everything about everything. It was amazing to me what their perspective was on the details of the inspection process.
A common misconception about the inspection program is that it’s a revenue-based venture for shops. But the program works in a way where a shop could find a defect on the vehicle during the inspection and the customer can choose where they want to get the repair—it doesn’t have to be at the same shop. The owner of the vehicle can even go home to fix it themself and then bring it back for a reinspection if they would like.
To educate legislators on the process of inspections, we held an informational meeting at a technical college and did a safety inspection in front of them. Most of the legislators had no idea what was involved in a vehicle inspection, so it was very eye-opening for most of them.
There's a lot of misinformation out there about our industry. So it’s really important for us to be involved in the decisions being made that affect us. For whatever reason, our industry has a bad reputation from the start.
The more professional shop owners who get involved, the more we can talk to legislators and explain how we do things at professional repair shops. That way, local legislators are educated on our industry and can make better decisions on related issues.
I recommend that all shop owners get involved in an association that represents other owners in their area like MWACA or AASP. These organizations have their hand in knowing what kind of legislation is out there that could affect our industry. My involvement is how I found out about what was happening in my area and what legislation was going through.
The more shop owners who show up to these hearings, the better chance we have of protecting our industry and making sure that we're being looked after. The last hearing I went to probably had close to 20 shop owners there, which was great.
Although I didn’t end up winning the election, I heard I had a great showing, and overall it was an interesting experience—I’m now considering running again in the future.
Mike Moehlenkamp owns Gary's Auto Service in Florissant, Mo. He is involved in MWACA and AASP.