SEMA News—July 2012
Legislative AND Technical Affairs
By Steve McDonald
Law and Order
California Emissions Exemption:
SEMA-supported legislation to exempt all motor vehicles prior to the ’81 model year from the emissions inspection requirement will not be reconsidered by the California Senate after failing its initial vote. According to bill sponsor Senator Doug LaMalfa, “Although the bill was granted reconsideration, the opponents contend the exemption is intended as a means of ignoring the effects of pollution caused by older, high-emissions vehicles rather than a legitimate benefit for classic-car collectors whose vehicles are rarely driven. My efforts to convince my colleagues of the merits of the bill have been unsuccessful and, therefore, the bill has been dropped for this year and, of course, I am very disappointed.”
In 2004, legislation was enacted to repeal California’s rolling emissions-test exemption for vehicles 30 years old and older and replace it with a law requiring the lifetime testing of all ’76 and newer model-year vehicles. This year’s bill acknowledged that pre-’81 vehicles constitute a small and shrinking portion of the overall vehicle population, are a poor source from which to look for emissions reduction and are overwhelmingly well-maintained and infrequently driven.
Connecticut Antique/Rare/Special-Interest Motor Vehicles:
SEMA-opposed legislation that threatened to increase the age requirement for vehicles eligible for registration as “antique, rare or special-interest motor vehicles” died when the Connecticut Legislature adjourned for the year, suffering the same fate as an identical bill last year. The Joint Committee on Planning and Development had approved the bill by a narrow 10-9 vote. Under the measure, vehicles that owners were seeking to register as antique, rare or special-interest motor vehicles would have been required to be at least 30 years old. Currently, vehicles 20 years old or older are eligible for this status and special-license plates. For the purpose of property taxes, the bill also increased the maximum assessment of these vehicles to $2,500. Antique, rare or special-interest motor vehicles are currently assessed at a rate of $500, and owners pay personal property taxes on that amount.
Hawaii Collector Cars:
Two resolutions have been approved by the Hawaii State Legislature recognizing July 13, 2012, as Collector Car Appreciation Day. Earlier this year, SEMA designated this date to mark the third commemoration in what has become an annual event to raise awareness of the vital role automotive restoration and collection plays in American society. In the previous two years, thousands of Americans have gathered at car cruises, parades and other events to celebrate our nation’s automotive heritage. By taking part in these events around the country, these automotive enthusiasts and related businesses ensured that their passion was honored and recognized.
No Duties on Certain Steel Wheels from China:
The U.S. International Trade Commission voted 6-0 that American industry was not being threatened with injury from certain Chinese steel wheels that are being sold at less than fair value in the U.S. Therefore, no duties will be imposed despite the fact that another government agency had calculated dumping margins of 45% to 194% and unfair subsidies from 26% to 38%. The subject wheels range from 18 to 24.5 inches in diameter and are typically used in commercial vehicles (trucks, buses, trailers, etc.), but passenger car wheels within that size range fell within the scope of the investigation.
Brake-Throttle Override System:
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a proposed rule to update Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 124 by requiring the installation of a brake-throttle override system on all new light-duty vehicles. The system would be triggered when the gas pedal and brake were simultaneously applied or when the accelerator control system was disconnected. It would not address instances in which the driver accidentally pressed on the accelerator rather than applying the brakes. Once the rule is finalized, the automakers will have two or three years to install the equipment.
“Employee Rights” Poster:
A U.S. District Court has temporarily postponed a rule issued by the National Labor Relations Board instructing employers to display an 11-x17-in. poster informing workers of their right to unionize and bargain collectively. The rule was scheduled to take effect on April 30 but is on hold while the court reviews its legality. The rule is widely opposed by business groups, including SEMA, over concerns that it unfairly promotes unionization.
Gas Pump Vapor-Recovery Nozzles:
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is phasing out a rule that certain gasoline stations install vapor-recovery nozzles on gas pumps. The pollution-control devices have been required since 1994 in about 40 ozone non-attainment areas across the country. Individual states will still have authority to mandate the nozzles. The EPA concluded that the controls are unnecessary, since about 70% of all U.S. vehicles are now equipped with onboard vapor-recovery systems, including all vehicles manufactured after 2006. According to the EPA, 31,000 affected gas stations in mostly urban areas will save $3,000 apiece once the ruling is implemented.
Identifying Counterfeit Products:
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is now authorized to share information with intellectual property right holders for the limited purpose of determining whether certain goods bear counterfeit marks. These changes provide a pre-seizure procedure for disclosing information to right holders who have recorded their trademarks with CBP and are now suspected of being counterfeiting victims. The right holder may be provided with photographs and/or a sample of merchandise or retail packaging for examination. The information will include serial numbers, universal product codes and stock keeping unit numbers appearing on the imported goods/packaging, whether in alphanumeric or other formats. Customs modified its disclosure rules to resolve a conflict with the Trade Secrets Act, which forbids a government official from sharing protected information.