LEGISLATIVE AND TECHNICAL AFFAIRS
Law and Order
By Daniel Ingber
Kansas—Restoration: The Kansas House of Representatives Transportation Committee passed SEMA-supported legislation to allow the full restoration of antique vehicles, including temporary removal of the vehicle identification number (VIN) when necessary. This bill changes existing law to allow for the removal and reinstallation of a VIN if the removal and reinstallation is reasonably necessary for repair or restoration. Currently, restorers who intentionally remove or alter a VIN, regardless of reason, are guilty of a felony, and the vehicle is subject to seizure and destruction by law enforcement. The bill awaits consideration on the House floor.
RPM Act: SEMA and the Performance Racing Industry (PRI) continue to work closely with key lawmakers in Congress, SEMA members and the racing community to enact the Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports Act (RPM Act), H.R. 3281 and S. 2736. The RPM Act clarifies that it is legal to make emissions-related changes to convert a street vehicle into a dedicated race car under the Clean Air Act (CAA). The bill would also confirm that producing, marketing and installing racing equipment on track vehicles does not violate the CAA.
The RPM Act enjoys strong bipartisan support in the 2021–2022 session of Congress, which is the byproduct of unprecedented grassroots advocacy by SEMA members and the motorsports parts industry as well as targeted outreach to key lawmakers through congressional site visits and meetings. However, it is imperative that we continue to keep the pressure on lawmakers to pass the bill before this session of Congress ends on January 3, 2023.
Below are four things you can do right now to help to pass the RPM Act:
- Call and send a letter to your lawmakers at: saveourracecars.com. A letter has already been drafted. It takes less than a minute.
- Sign a letter to your lawmakers on company letterhead. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for a template and more information.
- Post about the RPM Act on your company’s social-media accounts using the digital assets toolkit at www.sema.org/rpmtools.
- Learn more about SEMA’s Political Action Committee (SEMA PAC) at www.semapac.com. SEMA PAC allows SEMA members to support the lawmakers that stand up for our industry in Washington, D.C.
Right to Repair: U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) introduced the “Right to Equitable and Professional Auto Industry Repair (REPAIR) Act.” The SEMA-supported legislation (H.R. 6570) aims to ensure the preservation of consumer choice, a fair marketplace, and the continued safe operation of the nation’s 288 million registered passenger and commercial motor vehicles.
As vehicle technology continues to advance, new barriers to a competitive auto servicing marketplace are emerging. These barriers limit consumer choice in where to service, repair and modify motor vehicles and increase servicing costs. The REPAIR Act, if enacted into law, will reduce these barriers, putting consumers’ interests first. The bill is backed by SEMA, the Auto Care Association, the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association and the CAR Coalition.
Steel and Aluminum Tariffs: U.S. and Japanese officials agreed to a tariff-rate quota deal to end the 25% tariff on steel imports from Japan levied since 2018. The 25% tariffs will be suspended on up to 1.25 million metric tons per year of steel imports from Japan, effective April 1, 2022. (The United States imported 1.1 million metric tons of steel from Japan in 2019 but 1.7 million tons in 2017 before the tariffs were imposed.) The agreement does not cover aluminum imports, which are subject to 10% tariffs.
The metal tariffs were initially imposed in 2018 under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 on national security grounds. The United States and the European Union agreed to a quota system for ending the steel and aluminum tariffs as of January 1, 2022. Negotiations are underway to end the metal tariff disputes between the United States and the United Kingdom.
Combatting Counterfeit Goods: The SEMA-supported “INFORM Consumers Act,” H.R. 5502, passed the U.S. House of Representatives as part of the “America Creating Opportunities for Manufacturing, Pre-Eminence in Technology, and Economic Strength Act of 2022” (America COMPETES Act), H.R. 4521. The INFORM Consumers Act is designed to protect Americans from criminals who sell counterfeit and stolen goods through online marketplaces. The legislation would require high-volume third-party sellers to disclose the full name of the seller or company, its business address and its contact information, among other requirements.
SEMA is part of the Buy Safe America Coalition, a diverse group of retailers, consumer groups, manufacturers, intellectual property advocates and law enforcement officials who support efforts at all levels of government to protect consumers and communities from the sale of counterfeit and stolen goods. The U.S. Senate did not include the INFORM Consumers language in its version of the COMPETES Act. As the House and Senate seek to reconcile the differences in the two bills, SEMA and its coalition partners are urging the inclusion of the INFORM Consumers Act in the final consensus bill.
Federal Headlight Standard: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a final rule amending the federal motor vehicle safety standard regulating lighting equipment (FMVSS No. 108) to include performance-based standards for adaptive driving beam (ADB) headlights. ADB headlights or “smart headlights,” which have been permitted on vehicles in Europe since 2006, operate as high-beam headlights and automatically dim portions of the beam when oncoming vehicles are detected by sensors. The bipartisan infrastructure bill that was signed into law last year mandated that NHTSA update FMVSS No. 108 to allow for this technology. The final rule permits the use of ADB headlights on new vehicles as well as aftermarket installation of these systems, both for replacing original equipment and replacing a non-ADB headlight.
Arizona—Restoration: The Arizona House of Representatives passed SEMA-supported legislation to allow the full restoration of pre-’81 vehicles, including temporary removal of the vehicle identification number (VIN) when necessary. This bill changes existing law to allow for the removal and reinstallation of a VIN if the vehicle was manufactured before 1981 and if the removal and reinstallation is reasonably necessary for repair or restoration. The bill awaits consideration in the Senate.
Arizona—Motorsports: The Arizona legislature introduced a SEMA-supported memorial urging the U.S. Congress to pass the Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports (RPM) Act. The memorial awaits consideration in the House Commerce Committee.
California—Manufacturers: The California legislature introduced SEMA-supported legislation to create the California Manufacturing Attraction and Development Exemption (CA MADE). If passed, the CA MADE exemption would eliminate the sales tax on most manufacturing equipment purchases. This bill is pending in the Assembly.
Idaho—Single License Plate: The Idaho Senate introduced SEMA-supported legislation to allow the display of only a single, rear-mounted license plate for all passenger vehicles. Current law only permits the display of a single rear-mounted plate for motor vehicles registered as classics, old timers or street rods. The bill awaits consideration in the Senate Transportation Committee.
Iowa—Antique Vehicles: The Iowa House of Representatives introduced SEMA-supported legislation to reduce the registration fee/tax for older antique vehicles. This bill applies to vehicles 30 years old or older registered as antiques and whose primary value is as collectors’ items and are not used for general transportation. The bill awaits consideration in the House Transportation Committee.
Iowa—Year-of-Manufacture Plates: The Iowa House of Representatives introduced SEMA-supported legislation to allow the state to issue newly created year-of-manufacture license plates for antique vehicles. The House Transportation Committee passed the bill, and it currently awaits consideration in the House Ways and Means Committee.
Kansas—Antique Vehicles: The Kansas House of Representatives introduced SEMA-supported legislation to allow vehicles registered as antiques with model years of ’60 or earlier to use bills of sale as proof of ownership. The bill awaits consideration by the House Transportation Committee.
Maryland—Emissions: Maryland introduced SEMA-opposed legislation to enact a biennial $14 fee on motor vehicles that are exempt from the state’s Vehicle Emissions Inspection Program, including historic vehicles and street rods. These bills currently await consideration in the House Environment and Transportation Committee and the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.
New Jersey—License Plates: The New Jersey Assembly introduced SEMA-supported legislation to allow the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission to issue newly created classic license plates for display on all vehicles. The new plates will resemble those issued between ’79 and ’91, featuring sand-yellow text on a blue background. The legislation awaits consideration in the Assembly Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee.
New Jersey—Street Rods and Customs: New Jersey introduced SEMA-model legislation that creates vehicle registration classifications for street rods and custom vehicles. This bill defines a street rod as an altered vehicle manufactured before ’48 and a custom as an altered vehicle at least 25 years old and manufactured after ’48. This bill is pending before the Assembly Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee.
New York—Inspections: The New York Assembly introduced SEMA-supported legislation to exempt historical and antique vehicles that are at least 50 years old from the state’s annual safety inspection requirement. The bill is pending before the Assembly Transportation Committee.
Oklahoma—Antique Plates: The Oklahoma House of Representatives introduced SEMA-supported legislation to create a new antique license plate specifically for vehicles at least 45 years old. This bill would add the new plate offering while continuing to allow the current classic vehicle license plate option for vehicles 25–44 years of age. This bill awaits consideration in the House Transportation Committee.
Oklahoma—Military Vehicles: The Oklahoma House of Representatives introduced SEMA-supported legislation to allow the registration and titling of former military surplus vehicles. Under the bill, a military surplus vehicle is defined as a vehicle less than 35 years old that was manufactured for use in either the United States Armed Forces or the armed forces of any country that was a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization at the time the vehicle was manufactured. The bill awaits consideration in the House Public Safety Committee.
Virginia—Year-of-Manufacture Plates: The Virginia Senate introduced SEMA-supported legislation to expand year-of-manufacture (YOM) license plates for vehicles registered as antiques to include plates manufactured in ’73 or thereafter. Currently, only vehicles manufactured in ’72 or earlier may display YOM plates with DMV approval. The Senate Transportation Committee passed the bill, and it now awaits consideration by the full Senate.
Virginia—Exhaust Noise: The Virginia legislature introduced several proposals to reform enforcement of its exhaust noise laws. Under one proposal, vehicles would be limited to 85 dB of sound when measured at 50 ft. Under the other proposal, vehicles would be limited to their standard factory-equipment exhaust system. Both bills have passed the full House and currently await consideration in the Senate.
Utah—Military Vehicles: The Utah Senate passed SEMA-supported legislation to exempt military vehicles from displaying a license plate. The bill would require a license plate to be carried inside the vehicle and ready for inspection by law enforcement upon request. The House Transportation Committee passed the bill, and it now awaits consideration by the
West Virginia—Motorsports Incentives: The West Virginia House of Delegates introduced SEMA-supported legislation to aid and incentivize the construction of motorsports complexes. The bill is pending before the Senate Economic Development Committee.
West Virginia—Antique Fleet: The West Virginia House of Delegates introduced a SEMA-supported bill to create an antique fleet program. Under the proposal, the owner of five or more antique vehicles would be able to use a single registration plate. The House Technology and Infrastructure Committee passed the bill, and it now awaits consideration by the House Government Organization Committee.
West Virginia—Antique Plates: The West Virginia House of Delegates introduced SEMA-supported legislation to allow antique vehicle license plates for vehicles weighing more than 10,000 lbs. The House Technology and Infrastructure Committee passed the bill, and it now awaits consideration by the House Government Organization Committee.
West Virginia—Foreign-Market Vehicles: The West Virginia House of Delegates introduced SEMA-supported legislation to exempt any foreign-market vehicle that is 25 years old or older from the state’s annual safety inspection if the vehicle has liability insurance. The bill is pending before the House Technology and Infrastructure Committee.
West Virginia—Motorsports Protection: The West Virginia House of Delegates introduced SEMA-supported legislation to protect motorsports venues that have been in operation for more than one year from nuisance claims. The bill awaits consideration in the Senate Judiciary Committee.