SEMA News—June 2014
LEGISLATIVE and TECHNICAL AFFAIRS
By Steve McDonald
LAW AND ORDER
Alabama Vintage Vehicles: Legislation has been introduced to authorize the owner of a vintage vehicle to keep the permanent vintage tag but pay regular license taxes and registration fees for the privilege of operating the vehicle for general transportation purposes. The vehicle owner would also have to maintain and show proof of mandatory liability insurance coverage. Under existing law, the owner of a vintage vehicle that functions primarily as a collector’s item may register with the licensing official and obtain a permanent vintage vehicle license plate.
Arizona Emissions: Legislation to exempt all vehicles manufactured in model-year ’74 and earlier from the state’s mandatory biennial emissions-inspection program was signed into law in 2011. Before this exemption can go into effect, Arizona regulators must update the state’s air-quality plan and demonstrate that the exemption will not impact Arizona’s compliance with clean-air requirements. The updated plan must then be approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality has indicated that changes to the state’s air-quality plan to accommodate the exemption will be submitted to the EPA by early 2015.
Delaware Reconstructed Vehicles: Having already been approved by the House of Representatives, legislation to exempt reconstructed vehicles that are more than 25 years old from emissions testing was passed by the Senate Public Safety Committee and sent to the floor for a vote by all Senators. Under the bill, the vehicle must continue to meet and be inspected for safety and anti-tampering requirements for its model year. In Delaware, a reconstructed vehicle is “a vehicle which has been assembled or constructed largely by means of essential parts, new or used, derived from other vehicles or makes of vehicles of various names, models and types, or which, if originally otherwise constructed, has been materially altered by the removal of essential parts or by the addition or substitution of essential parts, new or used, derived from other vehicles or makes of vehicles.” Vehicles exempt from emissions testing may not be used for general transportation or be driven more than 1,000 miles per year.
Louisiana Collector Cars: A bill to annually designate the Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the second weekend in July as Louisiana Collector Car Appreciation weekend was approved by the House of Representatives and now moves to the Senate for consideration. Earlier this year, the SEMA Action Network (SAN) announced these dates to mark the fifth commemoration in what has become an annual event to raise awareness of the vital role automotive restoration and collection plays in American society. The SAN is again working to secure a U.S. Congressional resolution to recognize the day’s significance.
Maryland Legislation: Several bills introduced in Maryland in 2014 failed to meet the crossover deadline and therefore are dead for the year. Among these is SEMA-opposed legislation to increase the age requirement for vehicles eligible for registration as “historic motor vehicles.” Under the bill, the age requirement would have been raised from 20 to at least 25 years old, require that an historic vehicle be insured under an historic-vehicle, show-vehicle or antique insurance policy and require that the owner have a “daily driver” vehicle registered in Maryland. A SEMA-supported measure to require the issuance of only a single license plate for historic vehicles and street rods also died.
Michigan Historic Military Vehicles: Legislation to exempt historic military vehicles from the requirement that they display a license plate unless the vehicle was originally manufactured with lighting and mounting provisions for a plate was signed into law by Governor Rick Snyder. Under the law, if the plate is not attached to the exterior of the historic military vehicle, it must be present in the vehicle and available upon demand by law enforcement officers.
Minnesota Classic Cars: Identical House and Senate legislation to provide for a program that will allow classic-car status to be determined from nationally recognized standards and guides was approved by committees in both chambers. The bills now move to the House and Senate floor for a vote by all members. Under the current system, this status must be designated by the state through a time-consuming amendment to the law.
New Hampshire Year-of-Manufacture Plates: Legislation to expand the range of vehicles eligible to use original year-of-manufacture license plates on antique motor vehicles was approved by the House of Representatives. The bill will now be considered in the Senate. Currently, only ’60 and earlier model-year antique vehicles are eligible to use these plates. Under the bill, eligibility would be expanded to include all ’75 and earlier model years.
New Hampshire Ethanol: Legislation to prohibit a person from selling or offering for sale gasoline that contains more than 10% of corn-based ethanol was approved by the House of Representatives. If enacted, the law would take effect only if any two additional New England states adopt similar legislation limiting the amount of corn-based ethanol in gasoline to 10%. The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.
Tennessee Antique Vehicles: Legislation to allow counties to exempt owners of antique motor vehicles from the privilege tax was signed into law by Governor Bill Haslam. Under the new law, the county may also require a one-time-only payment of the tax. According to the state, the average amount of the one-time tax imposed would be $43.10. In Tennessee, an antique motor vehicle is “a motor vehicle over twenty-five years old with a nonmodified engine and body that is used for participation in, or transportation to and from, club activities, exhibits, tours, parades, and similar uses as a collector’s item; on the highways for the purpose of selling, testing the operation of, or obtaining repairs to or maintenance; and for general transportation only on Saturday and Sunday.”
Virginia Exhaust Systems: A bill to allow antique vehicle hobbyists to install and use aftermarket exhaust systems was held over to the 2015 legislative session by the Senate Transportation Committee. The bill had already been approved by the House of Delegates.
Washington License Plates: Legislation to require the issuance of only a single license plate for vehicles that do not include a front mounting bracket died when the legislature adjourned for the year. The bill had received no committee consideration prior to adjournment.
West Virginia Legislation: The West Virginia legislature adjourned for 2014 after failing to proceed on several pieces of legislation. Among these was a SEMA-supported bill to provide owners of antique motor vehicles with an exemption from all taxation and fees that was approved by the House Roads and Transportation Committee and was referred to the Judiciary Committee, where it did not receive committee consideration before the session concluded. Similar legislation to exempt motor vehicles that are older than 25 years from personal property taxes also died. Based on SEMA-model legislation, a bill that would have allowed state hobbyists to install and use aftermarket modified exhaust systems that meet a 95-decibel limit was not given committee consideration.
Wisconsin Historical Plates: A bill to allow the display on collector vehicles manufactured before 1979 of one or two historical registration plates from or representing the model year of the vehicle was approved by the legislature and sent to the governor for his signature and enactment into law. Under the bill, these plates could be used if the vehicle is being operated to or from a car show or parade and any current registration plate issued for the vehicle is carried in the vehicle.
Canada (British Columbia) Collector Cars: The province of British Columbia issued a proclamation designating July 12, 2014, as Collector Car Appreciation Day. The province also proclaimed the month of July 2014 to be Collector Car Appreciation Month. Earlier this year, the SAN announced these dates to mark the fifth commemoration in what has become an annual event to raise awareness of the vital role automotive restoration and collection plays in American society. The SAN is again working to secure a U.S. Congressional resolution to recognize the day’s significance.
EPA Issues Tier 3 Emissions Rules: The Environmental Protection Agency issued tougher tailpipe and evaporative emission standards known as Tier 3. The rule applies to new light-duty vehicles, medium-duty passenger cars and some heavy-duty vehicles. Reduced tailpipe emissions standards for particulate matter, non-methane organic gases and nitrogen oxides will be phased in between 2017 and 2025, and the useful life period will be raised from 120,000 miles to 150,000 miles. The evaporative emissions standards will also be reduced by nearly 50% from current standards and the useful life period raised to 150,000 miles. The EPA will also adopt California’s onboard diagnostic system requirements. Tier 3 will lower the sulfur content in gasoline by more than 60%. California has already adopted this approach as of 2017, and the automakers are relying on the fuel to run lean-burn gasoline direct-injection engines and allow the vehicle’s catalytic converter to work more efficiently.
National Monument Designations: The U.S. House of Representatives passed a SEMA-supported bill to require a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) study for any national monument designations more than 5,000 acres. Currently, the president of the United States has the unilateral authority to declare a parcel of public land with “historic or scientific interest” to be a national monument. Such a designation frequently leads to road closures for motorized recreation. The bill would place limits on that authority. The president could declare a monument less than 5,000 acres, but that declaration would need Congressional approval within three years. A larger parcel of land would require a NEPA environmental study along with a Congressional study estimating long-term costs to manage the land. The president would also be limited to one declaration per state during any presidential term unless there was Congressional approval.
Debit Card Swipe Fees: A U.S. appeals court overturned a lower court ruling that the Federal Reserve had improperly inflated the fees banks and card companies are allowed to charge retailers when their customers swipe debit cards. The fees are currently set at 21 cents per transaction plus 1 to 3 cents more to cover fraud prevention and other adjustments. Retailers argued that these fees are too high to compensate the financial institution’s “authorization, clearance, or settlement” costs. The Federal Reserve had initially recommended a 12-cent transaction cap when it first implemented the Dodd-Frank financial reform measure but then raised the fee to 21 cents. The lower court ruling had not taken effect pending the appeal. Retailers will now consider asking the appeals court to reconsider its decision or petition for a Supreme Court review.
Commercial Trucking Logbooks: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has issued a proposal that interstate truck and bus drivers switch to electronic logs rather than fill out paperwork when tracking hours of operation. The FMCSA issued technical standards for the electronic logging devices and supporting documents, which are intended to reduce paperwork burdens and make it more difficult to misrepresent logbook time. The hours-of-service rules seek to address driver fatigue. The proposal is now subject to public comment.
Health-Care Law: The Obama administration extended for a second time a requirement that health-care policies meet minimum levels of coverage. The federal government will now give consumers another two years, until October 2016, to purchase health plans that comply with the coverage standards. Consumers had already been given a one-year reprieve last year. The extension is voluntary for states and insurers, so its impact is unclear. As of 2014, most policies offered through exchanges and in the individual and small group market were to have covered 10 categories deemed to be essential. Service categories include doctor/outpatient, emergency, hospitalization, maternity/newborn, pediatric, mental health, substance abuse, rehabilitation, laboratory, preventive and wellness and coverage for prescription drugs, oral and vision care. For more information, visit www.sema.org/healthcare.
Washington Collectible Vehicles: A bill, supported by SEMA, to exempt collectible vehicles of any age from emissions testing was approved by the legislature and signed into law by Governor Jay Inslee. The new law defines a collectible vehicle as “a vehicle of unique or rare design, of limited production, and an object of curiosity that is maintained primarily for use in car club activities, exhibitions, parades, or other functions of public interest or for a private collection, and is used only infrequently for other purposes.” The law requires that the vehicle have collectible-vehicle or classic-automobile insurance coverage that restricts the collectible-vehicle mileage or use, or both, and requires the owner to have another vehicle for personal use.
Minnesota Mileage User Fee: A bill was introduced to establish a pilot program administered by the Department of Transportation to impose a vehicle mileage user fee. Under the bill, the Department must report to the legislature its design options and recommendations for a permanent program that would be implemented in the near term. The measure seeks to penalize national efforts to create a more fuel-efficient vehicle fleet by taxing drivers based on vehicle mileage. As gas tax revenues decrease due to hybrid and electric vehicle ownership, states are looking for new sources of funding for pet projects.
Back-Up Cameras: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has directed automakers to install rearview camera systems by 2018 on all new vehicles weighing less than 10,000 pounds. The equipment is intended to prevent accidents by alerting drivers when pedestrians are behind the vehicles. The new rule was required under a law passed in 2008. While the law permitted sensors, mirrors or other devices to provide drivers with rearward information, NHTSA ultimately determined that a camera and dashboard display-screen system was the best solution, with a 10x20-ft. field of view. As of 2012, about 44% of new cars included rear cameras as standard equipment, and another 27% offered the equipment as an option. The new rule will be phased in over two years, with 10% of all subject vehicles required to have compliant rearview systems by May 1, 2016, 40% by May 1, 2017, and 100% by May 1, 2018.