FROM THE HILL
State Capitol Gains
State Lawmakers Honored at 2021 SEMA Show
By Christian Robinson
Kansas Rep. Leo Delperdang (right) was awarded the SEMA Stephen B. McDonald Lawmaker of Year Award at the 2021 SEMA Show by SEMA Director of State Government Affairs and the SEMA Political Action Committee Christian Robinson.
More than 700 lawmakers comprise SEMA’s State Automotive Enthusiast Leadership Caucus, a bipartisan group of state legislators who share a passion for all things automotive. When you have that many allies in your corner, deciding upon whom to bestow the Stephen B. McDonald Lawmaker of the Year award is no small task. However, there was never any doubt when it came to 2021’s winner.
Kansas Representative Leo Delperdang has routinely gone above and beyond to promote the automotive hobby in his home state. Most recently, Rep. Delperdang championed an effort to restore order to vintage vehicles eligible for antique registration. Until 2021, an antique vehicle was defined by the Kansas Highway Patrol as being “more than 35 years old and as close to the original as possible, without any significant alterations to the major component parts.” The law did not allow the use of non-original materials and did not recognize the limited availability of factory replacement parts. Thus, the overly strict policy prevented the automotive community from lawfully practicing common restoration techniques.
In response, Rep. Delperdang authored legislation (H.B. 2165) to remove the unnecessary registration restrictions for antique vehicles. Having quickly passed the Kansas legislature, the new pro-hobby law took effect last summer with Governor Laura Kelly’s signature.
The new law requires only that the vehicle be more than 35 years old, regardless of the type or age of the component parts installed. Kansas now falls in line with other states that allow antique vehicles to be properly defined by their age. While many would be satisfied to call it a day at that point, Rep. Delperdang went one step further, personally accompanying enthusiasts to the DMV to ensure that their paperwork was processed correctly.
In addition to being a lawmaker, Rep. Delperdang is also an enthusiast with a strong interest in the MOPAR brand. Rep. Delperdang drives a special-order 2019 Dodge Challenger ScatPack 392 Hemi and is a member of the Wichita Area MOPAR Club.
When the Kansas legislature resumed its work in early 2022, Rep. Delperdang wasted no time following up on his award-winning 2021. After learning about the case of a Kansan who had his prized ’59 Chevy Corvette deemed contraband and ordered destroyed under existing law over an issue with the rivets on its vehicle identification number (VIN), Rep. Delperdang introduced legislation to ensure that restorers do not face prosecution for removing a vehicle’s VIN during the restoration process. As of this writing, the House Transportation Committee had passed the bill, and it was awaiting consideration on the House floor.
Changing of the Guard
State Automotive Enthusiast Leadership Caucus Chairman Del. Kevin Hornberger (R-MD) addressed fellow Caucus members at the 2021 SEMA Show.
Rep. Delperdang wasn’t the only state lawmaker recognized for his work in 2021. At a gathering of state lawmakers during the 2021 SEMA Show in Las Vegas, Maryland Delegate Kevin Hornberger was named the new chairman of the State Automotive Enthusiast Leadership Caucus. Del. Hornberger was appointed to the post after West Virginia Del. Gary Howell’s term as caucus chairman was completed. Del. Howell served in the role for eight years and will remain involved with the caucus as chairman emeritus.
Del. Hornberger was elected to the Maryland House of Delegates in 2014 and has continuously demonstrated his commitment to keeping his home state friendly to automotive enthusiasts, including introducing SEMA’s model legislation to ease the process for titling and registering former military vehicles during the state’s 2022 legislative session. He is also personally invested in protecting the hobby as an enthusiast himself. He owns an ’86 Oldsmobile Cutlass 442 T-Top, a ’67 Chevy RSS Camaro, a ’65 GMC, a ’74 Chevy Blazer K5 and a ’77 GMC Jimmy.
“SEMA has had the pleasure of working with Del. Hornberger on several pieces of pro-hobby legislation in recent years and is excited to welcome him as caucus chair,” said Christian Robinson, SEMA’s director of state government affairs and the SEMA political action committee.
Del. Gary Howell, who was honored with a lifetime achievement award at the 2021 SEMA Show, served as an exemplary caucus chair for the past eight years. Thanks to his determination and hard work, he has contributed to the thriving automotive hobby in West Virginia. From championing bills to recruiting fellow lawmakers to the caucus, Howell upheld the rights of vehicle enthusiasts and raised awareness to the issues facing them. He will continue to be a valued member of the caucus and a steadfast advocate for the industry.
“Del. Howell’s dedication to the specialty automotive aftermarket industry is unparalleled,” Robinson said. “He has been an ardent ally for enthusiasts nationwide. SEMA thanks him for his leadership of the State Automotive Enthusiast Leadership Caucus throughout his term.”