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Tech Talk v61 – Legislative Strategy

Legislative Strategy: What’s Good for Our Customers is What’s Good for Elio

“The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only object of good government.” — Thomas Jefferson

Admittedly, that’s a pretty high-minded concept espoused by Thomas Jefferson, and in today’s often cynical society, it’s easy to find evidence where government doesn’t live up to this ideal. But, when government is done well, it provides a tangible benefit to our citizens.

At Elio Motors, our ultimate goal when we work with legislators is to enact laws that will help our future customers. Our effort to work with legislators to create a specific category for Autocycles is a great example.


Paul Elio, CEO and Founder of Elio Motors

Current legislation pigeonholes the Elio in the motorcycle category. And, with that category comes helmet laws in several states. The problem with that, as we’ve stated in several previous Tech Talks and news releases, is that wearing a helmet in an enclosed environment such as an Elio could be more dangerous than going helmet free. Therefore, it’s important to work with legislators to remove helmet mandates for any enclosed, three-wheeled vehicle.

Elio Motors needs to keep its resources focused on vehicle development. Therefore, our legislative efforts have been directed by our Vice President of Governmental Affairs, Joel Sheltrown. Joel is a former Michigan state legislator who held elected office for 16 years. He was previously with the Detroit Bridge Company and has been an integral part of the Elio team since 2011.

So how has Joel led the Elio Motors Governmental Affairs approach in regard to the helmet laws? Typically the approach looks something like this.


It begins with reading the statutes of every state to determine any challenge areas with registration, helmet or motorcycle license requirements. If an issue exists, then attention is turned to technical exclusions and/or wording of the law that would eliminate the requirement, especially in definitions.  These “definitions” are then used as means of confirmation to begin a conversation as to why an exclusion is necessary.


When an issue is identified, the state agency responsible is first contacted. For example, in licensing and registration generally it would be the Department of Motor Vehicles. The Department of Public Safety would be for helmet related issues.


If the state agencies don’t show interest in engaging, Elio Motors seeks to secure a legislative sponsor, often working closely with the state agencies on the language for a new bill. Review of the language is conducted and is prepared in its finality to ensure it will provide a tangible benefit for our customers. Often the Chair of Transportation is encouraged to sponsor in either the State House or Senate Committee.


Elio Motors then continues to work closely with the committee to get a hearing on the bill. Once a hearing is scheduled, we will testify before the committee about the importance of passing the legislation and answer questions.


As the bill moves out of committee to the floor, a vote is encouraged at this point. Most of the time the Elio Motors legislation passes unanimously, or at least overwhelmingly.

STEP 6  

The process starts all over again in the House or Senate body accordingly.


As the legislation passes both chambers, it heads to the Governor for signature.  Often Sheltrown will meet with the Governor’s policy team to explain the need for the change to ensure the Governor’s signature.

Of course, much of the work at the state level can be avoided if there is Federal legislation that covers the entire country. Recently, Sen. David Vitter (R – La.) introduced Federal legislation that would create an autocycle category and provide clear-cut safety and environmental regulation for the Elio. It is a step that ultimately (if passed) will clear up any ambiguity from state to state. This will benefit all of our customers because they will know they can cross state lines in their Elio without any changes in the law.

Today, thanks to the Internet, it is much easier to keep tabs on legislation and direction of government than it was in previous times. We have an effective means of mobilizing people to a particular cause, and the grass roots support provided by Elio fans has been an important element in creating positive legislation that will benefit future customers.  All these resources help to advance Elio Motors and our cause to make the positive change necessary that will ultimately help keep our customers safe and happy.

We think Thomas Jefferson would approve – and maybe even buy an Elio for his commute from Virginia to D.C!

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