SEMA News - May 2009
SEMA LEGISLATIVE AND TECHNICAL AFFAIRS
SEMA Government Affairs
Officials across the country are constantly working on legislative and regulatory proposals that have a direct impact on our industry and your customers. The SEMA Government Affairs Office advocates in support of pro-industry initiatives, and when needed, opposes unfair or restrictive legislation. Here are just a few of the issues facing each of the market segments within our industry.
In spite of mass opposition from enthusiast and industry groups, areas designed for motorized recreation are being closed to off-highway vehicles. This is extremely consequential to SEMA members since such designations potentially deny access to off-roaders and the equipment they purchase to enhance the utility of their vehicles.
As public land regulations come in multiple forms and from various branches of government, SEMA has urged decision makers to actively solicit the participation of enthusiasts groups in developing their policies. SEMA has also advocated that regulators in Washington, D.C., do not adopt one-size-fits-all guidelines for motorized recreation. In its place, SEMA promotes permitting local officials to work with end users to adopt reasonable and responsible motorized vehicle access while maintaining the overall health of the area.
First it was scrappage. Then it was “Cash for Clunkers.” Add restrictions to backyard builders, and it seems that the only place lawmakers would like to see older cars is in the crusher. Fortunately, SEMA has identified and is working with an increasing number of pro-industry lawmakers who recognize the irreplaceable value of these classic vehicles.
Crucial to these efforts is educating policymakers that these vehicles are well-maintained, used only on a limited basis and, in many circumstances, emit less pollution than when first produced.
Targeting these vehicles is a poor source for emissions reductions. SEMA is also working to support this ever-growing market through legislation that provides reduced or one-time registration fees and other proposals that will ease the bureaucratic burden in purchasing and owning these vehicles.
From street machines to sport compacts, it’s all about performance. However, some officials have tried to limit the types of modifications that can be made to these vehicles. These include restrictions to specialty-equipment exhaust systems, engine-enhancing equipment and performance tires and wheels.
Over the years, SEMA has worked with lawmakers to enact fair and responsible alternatives to these proposals. To counter restrictive attempts on modified exhaust systems, SEMA created model legislation to establish a 95-decibel exhaust-noise testing standard. Instead of banning nitrous-oxide systems, SEMA has urged lawmakers to adopt legislation that permits equipped vehicles to be operated on public roads if the supply lines have been disconnected, the canisters have been removed or if the vehicle is en route to or from a racetrack.
In many states, outdated vehicle registration laws have created confusion for those attempting to register street rods and other custom vehicles. To help simplify this process, SEMA has developed model legislation to create titling and registration classes for street rods and custom vehicles.
Through this initiative, qualifying vehicles are assigned the same model-year designations as the production vehicles they most closely resemble and are exempted from periodic inspections and emissions tests. The SEMA-model bill has helped to clear the often muddied process of street-rod titling and has provided an avenue to have this program adopted in states that either don’t have registration classifications for these vehicles or have laws that are lacking in some way. Through the help of hobby-friendly lawmakers, the list of states adopting this language continues to grow.
With the current economic situation and fluctuating fuel prices, the last thing consumers want is additional fees for purchasing a vehicle that meets their needs. Throughout all this, SEMA has consistently opposed attempts to penalize consumers for purchasing trucks and SUVs through increased taxes or vehicle surcharges.
While the specialty-equipment market is a birthplace for many of the new technologies that will help automakers achieve higher fuel standards, new laws must provide the necessary time to apply such breakthroughs to mass production and to ensure there is no unnecessary disruption to the marketplace, businesses and workers. In addition to these issues, SEMA diligently works with pro-industry lawmakers to prevent restrictions on grille guards and other truck accessories. SEMA has also rallied against legislative proposals that would unfairly prohibit reasonable modifications to suspension equipment on trucks and SUVs.