SEMA News—August 2011

Law and Order

LEGISLATIVE AND TECHNICAL AFFAIRS

Law and Order is an update of some of the most recent federal and state legislative and regulatory issues that could potentially impact the automotive specialty-equipment industry. These include issues affecting small-business owners and their employees.

State Update

California Diesel Parts:

 


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At SEMA’s request, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) recently extended its “Parts in Progress” (PIP) program until September 30, 2011. The program was slated to conclude on June 30, 2011. The program was initiated in light of California’s inclusion of light- and medium-duty diesel vehicles in its smog-check program. In order for uncertified diesel parts to not cause failure of the visual portion of the BAR’s smog check, CARB (in conjunction with SEMA and its members) created a procedure whereby members submitted Executive Order (EO) applications. The agency then conducted an “engineering analysis” of the parts and placed them on a PIP list. The PIP list identifies companies that have submitted all traditional EO applications materials and are currently addressing test requirements spelled out in the program, including a rigorous steady-state test mode. Test letters continue to be obtained, and testing has begun. Now through September 30, no diesel vehicle equipped with parts in the certification process will fail the visual portion of BAR’s smog-check test.

Illinois Antique Vehicles:

SEMA-supported legislation to provide for an expanded-use antique-vehicle registration class that would allow antique vehicles and replicas to be driven without limitation during the warmer part of the year (April 1 through October 31) was approved unanimously by the full Illinois Senate. The bill has already been passed by the full Illinois House of Representatives and will now be sent to the governor for his signature and enactment into law. Under the bill, expanded-use antiques are limited to traveling to and from car shows, exhibitions, servicing or demonstration during the colder months (November 1 through March 31). Regular antique vehicle registration would still be available for a lower fee to hobbyists who would prefer operating their vehicles on only a limited-use basis throughout the year.

Nevada Emissions Exemption:

Governor Brian Sandoval signed into law SEMA-supported legislation to exempt classic vehicles and classic rods from emissions inspections if owners pay a one-time $6 fee and submit a certification that their vehicles will not be driven more than 5,000 miles per year. Under previous law, classic rods and classic vehicles were subject to a 2,500-mile-per-year limit to qualify for an emissions exemption and had to pass an initial two-speed idle emissions inspection to qualify. The owners of classic rods and classic vehicles were also required to certify each year that their vehicles had not been driven more than 2,500 miles during the previous year, and the certification had to be verified by a DMV emissions technician. Under the new law, the initial emissions inspection is no longer required.

Texas Street Rods/Customs:

 


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In a last-minute flurry of activity before the adjournment of the legislature, SEMA-model legislation to create a vehicle registration classification for street rods and custom vehicles and provide for special license plates for these vehicles was passed by the full Texas Senate. The bill has already been approved by the full Texas House of Representatives and will now be sent to Governor Rick Perry for his signature and enactment into law. H.B. 890 defines a street rod as an altered vehicle manufactured before 1949 and a custom as an altered vehicle at least 25 years old and manufactured after 1948. The bill also allows for the use of non-original materials and creates a titling and registration criterion that assigns these vehicles the same model-year designations as the production vehicles they most closely resemble.  

  

Federal Update

Online Piracy:

The Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved a SEMA-supported bill to help combat online piracy and counterfeiting. The legislation would authorize the Department of Justice and intellectual property rights holders to pursue legal actions against rogue websites dedicated to selling counterfeit goods and copyrighted material. The sites are often foreign owned and operated. Courts would be authorized to issue orders requiring search engines in the United States to stop displaying advertising and links to infringing domain names and prevent consumer payments. The alleged infringer would have full due process protections, including the right to argue its case in court. The legislation would address the growing problem of online sales of counterfeit goods, whether specialty auto parts, pharmaceuticals or movies. These products cost thousands of American jobs, expose consumers to health and safety threats and tarnish business reputations. The bill has been sent to the Senate floor.

Wilderness:

   
   
The U.S. Department of the Interior has withdrawn its controversial “wild lands” policy, which directed lands with potential wilderness qualities to be managed as wilderness. SEMA joined with a number of other organizations to oppose the program, implemented last December by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), since it usurps the exclusive authority of Congress to designate “wilderness.” The designation is consequential to SEMA members that produce equipment intended for off-road activities and their customers, since no motorized activities are allowed on “wilderness” lands. The BLM manages more than 250 million acres across the western United States and Alaska, 22% of which already has the wilderness designation. Under the wild lands program, the BLM was directed to review its inventory in search of more wild lands. Program opponents noted that it did not take into account input from local communities and elected officials on how the lands should be managed, such as permitting multiple uses that provide jobs and economic benefits. The controversial program was being challenged in Congress and in the courts.

New-Car Mileage Labels:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have expanded the amount of fuel-economy information contained on new-vehicle window stickers. Among other changes, the information will now include the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the vehicle. The agencies adopted a SEMA-supported approach to incorporate graphics, increase type size and use other visual tools to help focus consumer attention on fuel economy. The agencies abandoned a proposal to use an A–D letter grading system, which SEMA deemed to be too simplistic. Instead, cars will be ranked on a fleetwide 10-point scale for both fuel economy and greenhouse gas ratings and smog emissions. The labels are required on all new cars starting in 2013, although automakers and dealers may voluntarily use them sooner.

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