Law & Order

KANSAS INTRODUCES SEMA MODEL STREET ROD/CUSTOM VEHICLE BILL

SEMA-model legislation to create a vehicle registration classification for street rods and custom vehicles and provide for special license plates for these vehicles will be considered by the Kansas House Transportation Committee. The bill defines a street rod as an altered vehicle manufactured before 1949 and a custom as an altered vehicle at least 25 years old and manufactured after 1948.

The bill allows kit cars and replica vehicles to be assigned a certificate of title bearing the same model-year designation as the body of the vehicle it most closely resembles.

WASHINGTON HOBBYISTS SAY NO TO GREENHOUSE GAS TAXES

With the help of grassroots hobbyists across the state, SEMA defeated two bills in Washington State that sought to tax vehicle owners in an attempt to reduce motor-vehicle emissions. The first bill would have established two separate progressive fees for state motor vehicles based on (1) engine size and (2) calculations of carbon emissions. These fees would have been collected by the state at the time of initial vehicle registration and at subsequent renewals of registration.  

MARYLAND PROPOSES EMISSIONS TEST EXEMPTION FOR LOW-MILEAGE CARS

SEMA is supporting Maryland legislation that proposes to exempt motor vehicles that are driven 1,000 miles or less from the state’s mandatory emissions' inspection program. Vehicles of any model year would be eligible. The bill is scheduled for a hearing by the House Environmental Matters Committee on March 7, 2008.

For more information click here. For details, contact Steve McDonald at stevem@sema.org.

ONE-CENT POSTAGE INCREASE BEGINS MAY 12

The cost of a first-class stamp will rise by $.01 to $.42, starting on May 12. Under a 2006 law reorganizing the U.S. Postal Service, the agency will now adjust postal prices on a yearly basis at a rate tied to inflation. The law change was intended to provide predictability and price protection. The inflation rate since last May’s first class mail increase was 2.9%. While the mailing cost for the first ounce of a first-class letter rises by a $.01, the price of each added ounce will remain $.17 (i.e. a two-ounce letter will go up a penny to &.59).

REARWARD-VIEWING CAMERAS AND SENSORS TO BECOME STANDARD EQUIPMENT ON NEW CARS

The U.S. Congress passed legislation designed to protect children from injuries or deaths in non-traffic vehicle incidents. President Bush is expected to sign the bill (HR 1216) into law. The measure directs the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to require new vehicles be equipped with a means of alerting the driver if a child is behind the vehicle when it is being backed-up. The specialty-equipment industry has been at the forefront of offering cameras and sensors to address the issue. 

OFF-ROADERS GAIN MORE ACCESS TO CALIFORNIA DUNES

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) ruled that 12,000 acres of the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area in California must be closed to the public so as to protect the Peirson’s milk-vetch plant. The agency excluded 10,000 acres of dunes where most off-road activities take place. The plant was placed on the endangered species list in 1998 and the FWS was required to designate critical habitat to protect the plant on land which is managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

ECONOMIC STIMULUS INCLUDES TAX INCENTIVES FOR BUSINESSES

The economic stimulus measure passed by Congress and to be signed into law by President Bush includes several important business tax breaks. The new law includes both a temporary increase in the first-year direct-expensing allowance and a bonus depreciation deduction of 50% for 2008. The direct expensing allowance increases to $250,000 from the current level of $128,000. The new law also provides an increase in the phase-out cap based on total equipment purchases in a year, rising to $800,000 from the current $510,000. 

Here is an example on how the tax breaks work:

LABOR DEPARTMENT SEEKS TO CLARIFY FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE RULES

The Department of Labor (DOL) has proposed changes to regulations governing the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to address gray areas in the law. One such issue has been the need to have more concise rules on managing unscheduled intermittent leave. Under the current and proposed rule, employers would define the smallest amount of time that can be tracked using the company’s timekeeping system.

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