Law & Order

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.

HAWAII TARGETS VEHICLE ENGINE SIZE FOR ADDITIONAL FEE

Legislation has been introduced in the Hawaii House of Representatives to establish a progressive fee for state motor vehicles based on engine size. These fees would be collected by the state at the time of initial vehicle registration and at subsequent renewals of registration.

These fees would be in addition to fees and taxes normally required for registration or renewal. The measure would tax vehicle owners with an engine size greater than 200 cu. cm., and the fee would increase depending on engine displacement.

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.

NHTSA ENDORSES PLAN TO PERMIT ELECTRONIC TIRE REGISTRATION

Last year, SEMA joined with the Rubber Manufacturers Association, Tire Industry Association and National Automobile Dealers Association in recommending that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) update its tire registration regulations to allow consumers to register their tire purchases electronically rather than by mailing back a paper registration form.

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT PROPOSES NEW ROOF CRUSH TEST

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has reissued a proposal it made in 2005 to revise the vehicle roof strength standard, Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 216. The new version would require manufacturers to design vehicle roofs that withstand at least 2.5 times the weight of the vehicle during a two-sided roof strength test as an alternative to testing just one side. 

PRO-HOBBYIST “SHOW CAR” BILL INTRODUCED IN PENNSYLVANIA

A version of SEMA-model legislation to create a vehicle registration classification for “show cars” and provide for special license plates for these vehicles was introduced and referred to the Pennsylvania House Transportation Committee for consideration.

The bill would permit show cars to be driven up to 5,000 per year and would exempt them from the state’s new enhanced vehicle-inspection program.

For more information, click here.

VERMONT INTRODUCES BILL TO IMPLEMENT VEHICLE SCRAPPAGE PROGRAM

A bill has been introduced in the Vermont State Senate that would implement a vehicle scrappage program and finance it with a progressive purchase and use tax and higher registration fees for some new motor vehicles based on fuel-efficiency ratings. Funds collected under the program would be used dismantle vehicles deemed by the state to be “clunkers,” regardless of their historical value or collector interest. 

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