The U.S. House of Representatives passed an energy bill to establish new efficiency standards for appliances, lighting and buildings. Lawmakers, however, put off until this fall a decision on how high to boost Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for automobiles.
Law & Order
After being stalled by SEMA for the last several years, a bill to ban the sale or installation of "an exhaust system which has been modified in a manner which will amplify or increase the noise emitted by the exhaust" was reintroduced and has been scheduled for an October hearing in the Massachusetts Legislature.
The measure does not supply law enforcement with a clear standard to enforce, allowing them to make subjective judgments on whether or not a modified exhaust system is in violation.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has established a new test procedure to demonstrate that the front passenger airbag will be suppressed during deployment when a child safety seat is present. All vehicles manufactured after September 1, 2008, must comply with the rule. The tests apply to child seats attached with lower anchors and tethers (“LATCH”), a system that bypasses a vehicle’s seat belts.
Additional federal oversight of foreign imports may be on the horizon as a consequence of recent shipments of tainted food and defective products from China. A number of Bush Administration cabinet officials will study ways to improve safety measures both at the U.S. border and in cooperation with foreign governments and manufacturers. The panel of experts will review U.S. laws and regulations to identify weaknesses in the current domestic regulatory system and to recommend solutions. The panel is expected to submit its findings within a couple of months.
The federal minimum wage increased from $5.15 to $5.85 on July 24, 2007. Two more $.70 increases will occur on the same date in 2008 and 2009, at which time the wage will be $7.25. While the federal wage has not been raised in a decade, at least 29 states and many local jurisdictions already have minimum-wage rates that are higher than the federal standard. For example, the current wage in California is $7.50 and will increase to $8.00 in 2008.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plans to regulate emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from aerosol cans, such as spray paints, primers and clear coatings. The EPA's proposal is similar to standards already established by California and subsequently adopted by Washington and Oregon. The rule would apply to manufacturers and distributors of aerosol products, which are used for both industrial applications and by "do-it-yourselfers."
The Department of Justice and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) settled a case with a company that had been accused of selling electronic devices that allowed cars to emit excessive levels of pollution in violation of the Clean Air Act. The products are known as oxygen sensor simulators (O2 Sims) and signal to the engine computer that the automobile is functioning properly even when the catalytic converter is missing or disabled. These types of products are known as "defeat devices" and are potentially illegal under subsection (B) of 42 USC Sec.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (TPMS) resolved certain technical issues on how the malfunction indicator light (MIL) is to flash when there is a problem. Under the original TPMS rule, when the MIL is combined with the low tire-pressure lamp into a single unit, it is to flash for 60–90 seconds followed by continuous illumination when there is a malfunction. The rule prohibits a second flashing in those instances during the same driving cycle where there are multiple, independent malfunctions.
SEMA-supported legislation that would, among other things, allow the Director of the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to adopt rules exempting new vehicles from the emissions-inspection program was approved by the state legislature and signed into law by Governor Janet Napolitano. If adopted by the DEQ, the emissions exemption would apply to new vehicles for the period before the sixth registration year after the initial purchase or lease.
With the close of the 2007 legislative session in New York, following is a status update of important legislation:
Street Rods/Customs: SEMA-model legislation to create a vehicle titling and registration classification for street rods and custom vehicles was introduced in both the New York Assembly and Senate. Neither bill received a committee hearing before the legislature adjourned for the year.