Law & Order

FEDERAL PANEL TO STUDY SAFETY OF U.S. IMPORTS

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.

MINIMUM-WAGE HIKE TOOK EFFECT ON JULY 24

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.

FEDS FOLLOW CALIFORNIA LEAD TO REGULATE VOCS FROM AEROSOL SPRAY PAINTS

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."

SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT REACHED ON ILLEGAL EMISSIONS CONTROL "DEFEAT DEVICES"

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.

NHTSA AMENDS TPMS RULE REGARDING MALFUNCTION WARNINGS

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.

NEW-CAR EMISSIONS-TEST EXEMPTION IN ARIZONA

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.

UPDATE NEW YORK: STREET RODS/CUSTOMS, GRILLE GUARDS, HISTORIC FEES, SPINNERS, TIRES

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.

BILL TO REPEAL 25-YEAR ROLLING EMISSIONS EXEMPTION DEFEATED IN TEXAS

SEMA-opposed legislation that would have repealed the state's 25-year rolling emissions exemption was defeated in conference committee. The defeated Senate amendment would have repealed the exemption and replaced it with a provision requiring all vehicles '80 and newer to be tested for the remainder of the vehicle's life.

For further details, contact Steve McDonald at stevem@sema.org.

 

EPA PROPOSES TOUGHER OZONE STANDARD

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has concluded that current regulations to reduce ozone air pollution are insufficient. The agency issued a proposed rule to tighten the standard from 0.08 parts per million, averaged over eight hours, to around 0.07 ppm. The EPA may even reconsider whether to set limits to 0.06 ppm as had been recommended by the agency's Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee.

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