The Interior Department will now allow other federal agencies to approve a commercial development (road, power plant, homes, etc.) on their own authority if it is determined that the project will have no impact on a threatened species.
Law & Order
The early months of 2009 are shaping up to be one of the most interesting and active periods in many years for the U.S. Congress and across the federal government. The 111th Congress will begin work in January with 53 new members of the U.S. House of Representatives and seven new members of the U.S. Senate.
This election gives SEMA the opportunity to introduce the auto hobby and our industry to a sizeable number of fresh-faced lawmakers. Along the way, SEMA will be welcoming several old friends who were previously state lawmakers.
It has come to SEMA's attention that some SEMA members have received a one-page notice offering a "free" listing in The FAIR Guide operated by Construct Data Verlag (also known as Construct Data AG) based in Austria. However, the small print at the bottom of the page notes that by signing and returning the document, you have entered into a three-year, non-retractable contract to pay up to $1,000 a year for the listing.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has proposed several revisions to the early warning rules, but the changes should have no impact on most manufacturers of specialty equipment.
In 2002, the NHTSA established an “early warning” system for reporting information to the agency that could provide clues to potential future safety problems. Most of the direct reporting requirements are limited to vehicle and tire manufacturers.
The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) announced that prices for Express Mail, Priority Mail, Parcel Select and other parcel services will increase about 5% on January 18, 2009. The annual adjustment reflects higher operating costs. The USPS has adopted a once-a-year increase, generally tied to inflation, in order to provide predictability and price protection.
Price changes for first-class mailing services, including stamps, will be announced in February and will go into effect in May 2009.
SEMA submitted comments to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) urging regulators to control carbon dioxide (CO2) tailpipe emissions through the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards. SEMA opposed the establishment of a separate program under the Clean Air Act. In 2007, the EPA was directed by the U.S. Supreme Court to consider how best to regulate CO2 and other greenhouse gases.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) updated its tire registration rule to allow consumers to register their tire purchases electronically rather than by mailing back a paper registration form. The action had been urged by SEMA and a number of other industry groups including the National Automobile Dealers Association, the Tire Industry Association and the Rubber Manufacturers Association.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has set the standard business-mileage deduction at 55 cents for 2009. This is below the 58.5 cents allowed during the second half of 2008, but above the 50.5 cents permitted during the first half. Widely fluctuating gasoline prices triggered two different rates for 2008.
The Department of Labor (DOL) made several changes to regulations governing the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) which are intended to address gray areas in the law. The following are key items:
An increasing number of specialty-equipment companies are facing the growing complexity of complying with emissions-related parts requirements, particularly when governed by federal and California environmental regulations. Questions often arise about the compliance process, how to handle "cease-and-desist" letters and how to avoid penalties and fines when selling emissions-related products in all 50 states.