SEMA News—November 2020
LEGISLATIVE AND TECHNICAL AFFAIRS
By Stuart Gosswein
South Dakota—Collector Car Appreciation Day: The South Dakota State Legislature issued a resolution commemorating Thursday, August 27, as Collector Car Appreciation Day in the state. The resolution was introduced by State Automotive Enthusiast Leadership Caucus member Representative Larry Zikmund, pictured here.
COVID-Liability Protection: SEMA and countless other trade associations and companies continue to ask the U.S. Congress to pass temporary and targeted COVID-19 protection from the threat of frivolous liability lawsuits. While some states have enacted such legislation, efforts to enact a national standard have stalled. The liability protections would be granted to businesses operating under applicable public health guidelines for the duration of the pandemic.
Aluminum Tariffs: The Trump Administration reimposed 10% tariffs on most aluminum from Canada in mid-August. Tariffs on both steel and aluminum were first imposed in June 2018 but were removed in May 2019 as part of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement negotiations. The steel tariffs have not been reimposed, but the administration cited a surge of Canadian aluminum into the United States as a reason for the tariffs. Canada immediately imposed reciprocal tariffs on products from the United States. The Driving American Jobs Coalition, which represents SEMA and the wide breadth of the auto industry, objected to the tariffs, noting: “Given the threat of tariffs hanging over the auto industry, Driving American Jobs is troubled by the Trump Administration’s decision to reimpose aluminum tariffs against Canada—a close trading partner and military ally. While we support leveling the playing field, the auto industry strongly believes any Administration should only use Section 232’s unfair trade authorities for true national security threats. The Coalition stands with the members of Congress who agree national security tariffs should not be used in trade disputes between allies.”
Virginia—Vehicle Modifications: The Virginia Senate introduced SEMA-supported legislation that includes provisions which would change certain traffic infractions from primary to secondary offenses. A secondary offense is one for which a citation can be issued only if the driver is stopped for another, separate offense. If passed, the following traffic infractions would be changed to secondary offenses: operating a motor vehicle without an exhaust system that prevents excessive or unusual levels of noise, without a light-illuminated license plate, or with certain sun-shading materials and tinting films. The bill currently awaits consideration on the Senate floor.
China Tariffs: The U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) granted only 266 extension requests of the 960 exclusions previously granted for List 3 products imported from China and subject to 25% tariffs. List 3 covers more than 5,000 Harmonized Tariff System Code listings, valued at $200 billion worth of imports, which include most auto parts. Tariff collections began in September 2018 at 10% and were raised to 25% in May 2019. The granted exclusions expired on August 7, 2020, and the new extensions expire on December 31, 2020. There was no indication that the USTR would provide any additional extensions after December 31. In making its decision about exclusions, the USTR considered factors such as whether the product is available from other sources outside of China, efforts taken by the importer to alter its supply chain, whether Chinese suppliers had lowered their prices for products covered by the exclusion, and whether the U.S. importer would suffer severe economic harm.
Commemorating Route 66: The U.S. Senate unanimously passed a bill creating a commission to identify how best to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Route 66, which became the nation’s first all-paved U.S. highway in 1926. The 15-person commission will include appointees from the eight states that the so-called Main Street of America crossed on its journey from Chicago to Santa Monica, through Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. To commemorate Route 66’s storied history, the commission may recommend the production of various written materials, films and documentaries, educational programs, artistic works, commemorative memorabilia, and celebrations. The U.S. House of Representatives passed a similar bill in 2019 by a bipartisan vote and will now consider the Senate-passed bill.
Nevada—Liability Protection: Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak signed into law SEMA-supported legislation that provides liability protections for businesses, government agencies and nonprofits. Certain medical facilities are excluded from these protections.
Tennessee—Liability Protection: Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed into law a SEMA-supported bill that limits liability for businesses, schools and nursing homes. Theses protections are retroactive to August 3.