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California Revises Smog-Check Program

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed into law a bill to revamp California’s smog-check program. No earlier than January 1, 2013, smog-check stations will be required to measure the emissions of model year ’00 and newer vehicles using onboard diagnostic testing. Current California smog-testing procedures require loaded mode dynamometer or two-speed idle testing, depending on where the vehicle is registered. The new law also directs that a procedure be developed for testing vehicles that are not able to be tested through an onboard diagnostic computer system.

OSHA Clarifies Industry Noise Exposure Standards

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is proposing to interpret its industry noise exposure standards to require employers to implement “feasible administrative” or “engineering controls to reduce noise to acceptable standards.” OSHA is clarifying that personal protective equipment, such as ear plugs and ear muffs, could only be used as supplements when administrative or engineering controls are not completely effective. OSHA notes that the term “feasible” would have an ordinary meaning of “achievable” or “capable of being done.”

Feds Propose Fuel-Efficiency Standards for Large Trucks and Buses

For the first time, the U.S. government is establishing standards for fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions for large trucks and buses. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have proposed 20% cuts in fuel use by 2018.

Street Performance Council Is SEMA PAC “Council Challenge” Winner

After an exciting two-month-long competition, the 2010 SEMA Political Action Committee (PAC) “Council Challenge” has a winner. The Street Performance Council (SPC) Select Committee held off a late rally from other councils to take the first SEMA PAC “Council Challenge” contest. SPC’s Select Committee contributed the most money to the PAC and was also 100% PAC-approved.

Pennsylvania Proposes Registration Fee Hikes

Legislation introduced in the Pennsylvania legislature threatens to increase fees for all vehicle owners. Under the bill, general passenger cars will face a $13 increase in their registration fee, while the one-time registration fee for antique, classic and collectible vehicles will go up by $27 (from $75 to $102), and the initial registration fee for street rods by $29 (from $20 to $51). Additionally, these fees would be increased again each subsequent year following enactment.

IRS Gives Companies the Option of Reporting Health Care Costs in 2011

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is providing a one-year delay before employers are required to report the dollar amount of the health insurance premiums paid for each employee on their W-2s. The amount will be listed as a nontaxable employer fringe benefit.

If the Election Were Held Today…Predictions

The 2010 midterm elections are less than two weeks away, and campaigns throughout the nation are making their last-minute pitches to voters. Many voters may have already made up their minds, driven by disappointment in the current leadership in Washington and a renewed outcry against high unemployment, stagnant economic growth, and increasing taxes and regulations.

Government Updating Guide on “Green” Advertising Claims

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is updating its “Green Guides,” which are intended to help marketers avoid misleading environmental claims. The Guides were first issued in 1992 but have not been revised since 1998. The Guides cover: 1) general principles that apply to all environmental marketing claims; 2) consumer perception of claims and marketing substantiation of claims; and 3) avoiding consumer deception.

Regulation to Restrict Imported Collector Vehicles in Wisconsin Put on Hold

A Wisconsin-proposed regulation to prohibit the registration of certain imported collector vehicles has been put on hold. Members of the Senate Transportation Committee voted by ballot to send the proposed rule, Trans 123, back to the Department of Transportation for revisions due to the vocal opposition of Wisconsin enthusiast groups, including members of the SEMA Action Network (SAN). Under an agreement reached with department officials, the rule will not be resubmitted but will be considered by lawmakers in the 2011 legislative session. The measure threatened to prohibit the registration of imported vehicles manufactured after 1967 that did not meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS).

Government Seeks New Fuel Economy Standards for Model Years 2017–2025

The federal government intends to set stringent new fuel economy and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions standards for model year (MY) 2017–2025 vehicles. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are working with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to establish the standards.
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