SEMA News—September 2013
LEGISLATIVE AND TECHNICAL AFFAIRS
By Steve McDonald
Law and Order
Connecticut Antique Vehicles:
SEMA-opposed legislation that raised the assessed value of antique, rare or special-interest motor vehicles and placed a cap on the number of miles those vehicles could be driven died when the legislature adjourned for the year. Under the bill, the valuation of the vehicles would have increased to a maximum value of $1,000. The current valuation limit in the state is $500. The bill included a 2,000-mile cap on the distance the vehicles could be driven in a two-year period. Further, the measure would have required that vehicles being registered as antique, rare or special-interest motor vehicles or as modified antique motor vehicles be at least 30 years old. Currently, vehicles 20 years old or older are eligible for this status and special license plates.
Heeding the call of angry consumers increasingly wary of the corrosive effects of ethanol-blended gasoline, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed into law legislation to repeal the requirement that all gasoline offered for sale in the state contain a percentage of ethanol.
Under previous law, the Florida Renewable Fuels Standard required that all gasoline sold or offered for sale by a terminal supplier, importer, blender or wholesaler in Florida contain 9%–10% ethanol, or other alternative fuel, by volume.
Nevada (Las Vegas) Collector Car Appreciation Day:
For the second consecutive year, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn G. Goodman and the Las Vegas City Council issued a proclamation declaring July 10, 2013, Collector Car Appreciation Day in the city. Earlier this year, the U.S. Senate passed Senate Resolution 176 at SEMA’s request to acknowledge the day’s significance in raising awareness of the vital role automotive restoration and collection plays in American society. The date marks the fourth commemoration in what has become an annual event.
Nevada Inoperable Vehicles:
Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval has signed into law SEMA-amended legislation that originally threatened to add abandoned, unregistered, inoperable or junk motor vehicles to the list of items that constitute a public nuisance. Under existing law, counties and cities may remove a public nuisance at the property owner’s expense if, after notice, the property owner does not remove the nuisance. Under the SEMA-drafted amendment, abandoned, inoperable or junk vehicles stored on private property would require only screening from public view in counties having populations of 700,000 or more people. Unregistered vehicles could not be declared a nuisance under the SEMA amendment.
New Mexico Collector Car Appreciation Day:
As she did in 2012, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez issued a proclamation designating July 12, 2013, as Collector Car Appreciation Day in the state.
New York Collector Car Appreciation Day:
Thanks to the efforts of Assemblyman Bill Reilich, the New York State Assembly again issued a resolution for Governor Andrew Cuomo to proclaim July 13, 2013, as Collector Car Appreciation Day in the state. Assemblyman Reilich is both a SEMA member and chairman of the State Automotive Enthusiast Leadership Caucus. He is the owner and operator of Rochester Auto Design, a retailer of auto display stands for auto shows and showrooms.
Ohio Single License Plate:
Legislation to require that motor vehicles display only a single license plate on the rear of the vehicle was approved by the Ohio House Transportation, Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee. The bill, supported by state hobbyists, now moves to the floor of the House of Representatives for a vote by all members.
Pennsylvania Emissions Inspection:
Legislation has been introduced in Pennsylvania to extend the emissions-inspection exemption to vehicles never before registered in the state or any other jurisdiction for five years from the model year in which the vehicle was manufactured. Current law exempts only new vehicles that have less than 5,000 miles on their odometers for one year after their first registration. Earlier this year, a bill was introduced to extend the emissions exemption for the first 10 years.
Pro-hobby legislation to allow a single license plate for attachment at the rear of the vehicle and a separate bill to increase the emissions-inspection period from an annual requirement to every five years died when the legislature adjourned for the year. SEMA-opposed legislation to impose on state motorists a vehicle-miles-traveled tax of up to 1.25 cents per mile and a bill to add an additional fee of $50 to vehicle registration and renewal fees also died.
Wisconsin Single License Plate:
Legislation has been introduced in Wisconsin to require that motor vehicles display only a single license plate on the rear of the vehicle. The bill has been referred to the Senate Transportation, Public Safety, and Veterans and Military Affairs Committee for consideration.
The measure would save money, conserve resources and bring Wisconsin in line with other states that have moved to a single-plate requirement. For vehicle enthusiasts, the bill would protect the design contours of collector cars and relieve vehicle owners of the burden of having to create mounting holes on some fabricated and original bumpers.
Members of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee intend to start with a blank slate as they draft legislation to reform the federal tax code. Through this approach, all deductions and credits would be removed so as to reduce overall tax rates. Popular tax breaks, such as the child credit, mortgage-interest deduction, research-and-development tax credit and charitable deductions, would be reinserted only if there is sufficient evidence that these provisions help grow the economy, make the tax code fairer or effectively promote important policy objectives. The House Ways and Means Committee intends to adopt the same approach. Both committees have held hearings on the topic and are seeking public input in order to complete a tax overhaul by the end of 2014.
Johnson Valley OHV Recreation Area:
The U.S. House of Representatives approved the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), including a provision that would end a five-year debate on how to expand the U.S. Marine Corps base at Twentynine Palms, California. Authored by Rep. Paul Cook (R-CA), the provision allows the Marines to have access to the adjoining Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Recreation Area for up to 60 days a year for training exercises, but the area would be otherwise preserved for recreational use. The land will continue to be controlled by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. The land is used year-round by OHV enthusiasts and is home to numerous motorized events that draw thousands of competitors and spectators to the area every year, including the famous King of the Hammers. SEMA is urging senators to approve the Johnson Valley provision when the Senate considers the NDAA bill later this summer. Final passage of the NDAA is not expected until this fall.
The U.S. Supreme Court rejected petitions to reconsider a lower court ruling allowing the sale of E15 ethanol.
The lower court did not rule on whether the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) decision to permit E15 sales was valid. Rather, the court ruled that the parties challenging the decision—representing the auto, boat, small engine, oil and food industries—did not have “standing” because they failed to demonstrate a direct injury from E15 sales.
The focus of attention now shifts to Congress, where SEMA-supported legislation has been introduced to effectively ban E15.
A bill has been approved by the House Science Committee and is pending before the Energy and Commerce Committee.
There has been no action on a Senate bill. Lawmakers are also considering legislation to revise the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) approved by Congress in 2005. It was expanded in 2007 to dramatically increase the amount of ethanol blended into gasoline each year, from 9 billion gallons in 2008 to 36 billion gallons by 2022.
The EPA approved E15 in anticipation of insufficient ethanol use through the sale of E10 to meet the increasing RFS ethanol mandates.
OHV Access to Cape Hatteras National Seashore:
SEMA is supporting legislation that would reverse a 2012 management plan issued by the National Park Service banning OHV access to large portions of the seashore. Under the current restrictions, about 39% of the seashore is closed to OHV recreation while 42% of the seashore is open year-round and 19% is open at different times during the year. The House bill would reinstate a previous management strategy that better balances wildlife protections with responsible OHV access. The bill is pending before the House Judiciary Committee. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee amended its version of the bill to require the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a study to determine how wildlife-buffer restrictions can be reduced to allow for expanded OHV recreation. The one-year study would determine the smallest area necessary to protect local species while opening new pedestrian and vehicle corridors around the protected land.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has once again delayed implementation of a rule that would require that all new passenger cars be equipped with a rearview camera system. The equipment is intended to prevent accidents by alerting drivers when pedestrians are behind vehicles. Under a law passed in 2008, the NHTSA had until 2011 to issue the rule to be phased in by 2014. While the law permitted sensors, mirrors or other devices to provide drivers with rearward information, the NHTSA determined that a camera and dashboard display screen system was the best solution. The automakers have generally objected to not being provided more flexibility in determining cost-effective ways to achieve the goal. As of 2012, about 44% of new cars included rear cameras as standard equipment and another 27% offered the equipment as an option.
A U.S. House Natural Resources Subcommittee held a hearing on how to best manage trails for motorized and non-motorized recreation.
It was noted that a number of trails were not originally intended as recreational venues but rather wood/mining extraction roads, firebreaks, hunting routes or game trails. Witnesses recommended a public/private collaborative approach for improved maintenance and trail marking.
The panel stressed the importance of including local stakeholders and trail users in land-management decisions. Some witnesses and subcommittee members specifically warned against “wilderness” and “national monument” designations that can close large areas of public lands to recreational opportunities without consideration of local concerns.
The hearing coincided with a Government Accountability Office report citing an estimated $314 million trail-maintenance and improvement backlog by the U.S. Forest Service for 2012.