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TIA releases preliminary checkoff program details, proposes legislation

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The Tire Industry Association (TIA) is proposing a National Tire Safety, Research and Education Alliance Act to finance a coordinated national program that would support tire industry training, research, development and consumer education efforts.

"This legislation must be approved by Congress to allow the tire industry to work together without violating antitrust regulations," say TIA officials.

If Congress approves, the proposed Alliance would be created via two-thirds majority vote through a national referendum of all new tire manufacturers, tire dealers, tire marketers and tire importers.

The Alliance, which could be killed at any time through industry referendum, would fall under the auspices of the Secretary of Transportation.

"This would provide some level of government oversight for projects directed to the public good and help deter challenges asserting that the (legislation) is nothing more than a private sector public relations campaign," say officials.

A board of directors comprised of representatives from tiremakers, tire dealers, tire marketers and other tire industry personnel would manage the Alliance, each having one vote.

"This board would determine what programs the Alliance will conduct to enhance consumer education, employee safety and training, and further industry research and development.

"Information discovered in research and development activities would be used in education and training programs for consumers and tire industry personnel."

A full-time professional staff would be hired to enact the board's directives, including the collection of fees generated by assessments placed on new, replacement tires manufactured domestically at the first point of sale, according to TIA officials.

TIA has set the fee at 50 cents per tire.

"Tire manufacturers would advise the Alliance of the purchasers and the numbers of tires sold to them.

"At that point, the Alliance would invoice those purchasers quarterly for the assessed fees.

"This allows dealers to use the 'float' to their advantage."

Assessments for tires built outside the U.S. would be collected by the U.S. Customs Service, who will be under contract with TIA to perform this function at the points foreign-made tires enter the country.

"At no point do the funds collected go into government coffers."

The National Tire Safety, Research and Education Alliance Act would restrict how assessments may be used and would limit the level of administrative expenses while prohibiting the use of assessments for lobbying purposes or consumer advertising.

"The Alliance would be responsible for ensuring that all fees are collected and would also be authorized to sue in federal court to compel the payment of fees.

"Anyone who fails to pay would be liable for the Alliance's attorney fees and cost."

TIA officials believe that as long as collected funds are spent on intended activities "there would be no basis for challenging the Act."

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