LEGISLATIVE AND TECHNICAL AFFAIRS
Law and Order
Automotive Cybersecurity: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) requested public comments on its updated guidance document entitled “Cybersecurity Best Practices for the Safety of Modern Vehicles.” First published in 2016, the NHTSA document identifies recommended best practices for motor-vehicle and equipment designers, manufacturers and suppliers. The updated document incorporates recent agency and industry research and focuses on best practices that have safety implications. SEMA supports cybersecurity controls that also safeguard the ability to modify vehicles and install specialty auto equipment.
ADAS Information for Consumers: NHTSA requested comments on how to eventually develop a rating system for advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) and incorporate it within the agency’s New Car Assessment Program (NCAP). The NCAP is intended to provide consumers with basic safety information about a new vehicle and foster comparison shopping between different makes and models. The program tests new-vehicle performance in various crash scenarios (frontal, side, rollover) and provides a five-star scale rating. NCAP was most recently updated to include automatic emergency braking systems starting with model-year ’18 vehicles. ADAS covers new crash-avoidance measures such as lane-departure and blind-spot warnings through the use of cameras, radar, lidar, vehicle-to-vehicle communications and other technologies. While ADAS offers many benefits, SEMA supports the NHTSA conclusion that it is premature to create federal safety standards while the technology and testing parameters are still being developed.
E15 Labels: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a proposed rule to either modify or remove the current E15 warning labels posted on gas station dispensers. Labels are currently required for gasoline-ethanol blends of greater than 10% ethanol and up to 15% ethanol (E15). The label is 3x5 in. and includes the language: ‘‘ATTENTION, E15, up to 15% ethanol, use only in 2001 and newer passenger vehicles, flex-fuel vehicles, don’t use in other vehicles, boats, or gasoline powered equipment. It may cause damage and is prohibited by Federal law.’’ The new label would be smaller and the warning message softened. Alternatively, the EPA is seeking comment on whether a label is necessary. SEMA contends that the label is vital to protecting vehicles and engines for which E15 use is inappropriate. SEMA supports making the warning label larger and including the words “WARNING” and “Check your owner’s manual,” along with pictograms of a classic vehicle, a boat, a motorcycle, an ATV, a lawnmower, a chainsaw and a snowmobile.
Duties on Tires From Southeast Asia: The U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) issued a preliminary finding that passenger and light-truck tires from South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam are being sold in the United States at less than fair value. The dumping margins were calculated at 14.24%–38.07% for South Korea, 52.42%–98.44% for Taiwan, 13.25%–22.21% for Thailand, and 0%–22.30% for Vietnam. The DOC has already issued a preliminary ruling that Vietnamese tire producers have received unfair subsidies associated with the country’s “undervalued currency,” with countervailing duty rates ranging from 6.23%–10.08%. The DOC is expected to issue final anti-dumping and countervailing duty decisions by May 13, 2021. The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) has already made an initial determination that U.S. industry is likely being harmed by the alleged dumping and subsidies. For duties to take effect, the ITC must confirm that there is harm or threatened harm to U.S. industry once the DOC has issued its final dumping and subsidy calculations. An ITC decision is expected by June 28, 2021.
National Monument Boundaries: President Biden issued an executive order requiring the U.S. Department of the Interior to conduct a review of the monument boundaries and conditions of several national monuments, including Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears National Monuments. The size of both monuments was reduced during the Trump administration. It is anticipated that the Biden Interior Department will recommend partly or fully restoring the boundaries to what existed prior to January 20, 2017. The Secretary of the Interior has 60 days to issue a report and findings. National monument designations frequently lead to the closure of existing off-road roads and trails. SEMA supports a collaborative approach when making major land-use decisions, including input from local citizens, elected leaders and other stakeholders.
Delaware—Equipment: The Delaware House of Representatives introduced SEMA-supported legislation that allows for the dismissal of minor equipment violations if repairs have been made. The violations include an inoperative horn, a missing rearview mirror and improper window tint as well as inoperable headlights, taillights or turn-signal lights. Under current law, those violations are subject to a fine or would constitute a moving violation on the person’s driving record. The bill currently awaits consideration in the House Judiciary Committee.
Kansas—Military Vehicles: The Kansas legislature introduced SEMA-supported House and Senate bills to allow for the registration and on-road use of surplus military vehicles. Currently, only antique military vehicles more than 35 years old can be registered for road use. The bills await consideration in the House and Senate Transportation Committees.
Michigan—Military Vehicles: Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer vetoed SEMA-supported legislation that would have allowed for the titling and registration of historic military surplus vehicles. Currently, such vehicles are not able to be titled or registered for use on highways in the state. In announcing her veto, Governor Whitmer explained that, while it provides an additional safeguard by requiring a safety inspection, the bill does not provide for any implementation of that requirement.
New Hampshire—License Plates: The New Hampshire House of Representatives introduced SEMA-supported legislation to require the display of only a single, rear-mounted license plate for all passenger vehicles. Under current law, vehicles must display two license plates. The bill currently awaits consideration in the House Transportation Committee.
New Hampshire—Window Tint: The New Hampshire House of Representatives introduced SEMA-supported legislation to allow the use of aftermarket tinting on the windows to the right and left of the driver. The bill allows tinting of not less than 35% light transmittance on those windows, bringing the state in line with the accepted industry tinting standard. Current law does not allow tinting on the windows to the left and right of the driver other than for medical reasons. The bill awaits consideration in the House Transportation Committee.
North Dakota—Collector Vehicles: The North Dakota legislature introduced a pair of SEMA-supported bills to lower the age requirement for a vehicle to be registered as an antique or collector vehicle and to allow a collector’s title to be issued to an owner of a rebuilt, reconstructed, salvaged, antique or vintage motor vehicle without a certificate of inspection. Both bills await consideration in the House Transportation Committee.
Ohio—License Plates: The Ohio legislature failed to pass SEMA-opposed legislation to require registration plates on the front of all motor vehicles prior to the end of its 2019–2020 session. In 2019, the Ohio legislature passed a bill removing the front plate requirement. It went into effect July 1, 2020.
Vermont—License Plates: The Vermont House of Representatives introduced SEMA-supported legislation to require the display of only a single, rear-mounted license plate for all passenger vehicles weighing less than 10,000 lbs. Under current law, vehicles must display two license plates. The bill currently awaits consideration in the House Transportation Committee.
Virginia—Imported Vehicles: The Virginia House of Representatives introduced SEMA-supported legislation to allow the DMV to issue a title for an imported foreign-market vehicle manufactured at least 25 years ago. The bill does not require such vehicles to comply with current U.S. federal safety requirements. Current law allows for only a negotiable title to be issued to such vehicles manufactured prior to 1968. The bill currently awaits consideration in the House Committee on Transportation.