SEMA News—July 2011
Law and Order
LEGISLATIVE AND TECHNICAL AFFAIRS
Law and Order is an update of some of the most recent federal and state legislative and regulatory issues that could potentially impact the automotive specialty-equipment industry. These include issues affecting small-business owners and their employees.
Arizona Emissions Exemption:
SEMA-supported legislation to exempt all vehicles manufactured in the ’74 model year and earlier from the state’s mandatory biennial emissions inspection program was signed into law by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer. Under previous law, only vehicles manufactured in 1966 and earlier and “collectibles” were exempt. The governor’s signature acknowledges the relatively minimal environmental impact of older vehicles, such as the historic cars targeted for this exemption. These vehicles constitute a small portion of the vehicle fleet and are well maintained and infrequently operated.
Massachusetts Aftermarket Exhaust Systems:
SEMA is opposing a Massachusetts bill to ban the “use and sale of any exhaust pipe that increases the sound emissions of any vehicle including motorcycles.” An identical bill was introduced in 2009 by the same sponsor and was set aside for study without any committee consideration. Among other things, the measure does not supply law enforcement with a clear standard to enforce, allowing officers to make subjective judgments on whether or not a modified exhaust system is in violation. The bill also ignores the fact that aftermarket exhaust systems are designed to make vehicles run more efficiently without increasing emissions.
Nevada New-Car Emissions Exemption:
Legislation to extend the emissions inspection waiver for new vehicles has been approved by the Nevada Senate Natural Resources Committee. Under the bill, new cars will be exempt for the first three years after their initial registration. The bill also changes the state’s emissions inspection program so that vehicles will only be required to undergo testing every two years. Current law requires annual emissions inspections for passenger vehicles and exempts new vehicles for only the first two years after initial registration. The Senate Finance Committee will next consider the bill.
Oklahoma Rebodied Vehicles:
Legislation to provide for certificates of title to be issued for “rebodied” vehicles has been signed into law by Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin. Under the new law, a rebodied vehicle is defined as a vehicle that has been assembled using a new body or new major component part, which must be identical to the body or major component part used on the original vehicle. The law also requires that a new body or major component part that is used to assemble a rebodied vehicle must be licensed by the manufacturer of the original vehicle. Other original, new or reconditioned parts may also be used. Titles issued to rebodied vehicles will identify the year, make and model of the originally manufactured vehicle and include a notation that states: “This vehicle has been assembled with new major components licensed by the original manufacturer.” Upon application, the Oklahoma Tax Commissioner will assign each rebodied vehicle a new vehicle identification number.
Legislation to allow municipalities to issue permits for sanctioned motor vehicle racing events on public streets and highways within its geographical jurisdiction has been signed into law by Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin. Introduced as the Municipal Motor Vehicle Racing Act, the new law promotes legal racing in Oklahoma, boosts the state’s tourism sector and streamlines the process for race promoters to obtain racing event permits. An exemption from regulations governing “public or private nuisances,” including noise limits, is also provided for in the new law. To obtain a permit, the racing event must be sanctioned by a nationally or internationally recognized racing organization.
Tennessee Emissions Exemption:
Legislation to exempt vehicles more than 25 years old from the state’s annual emissions inspection and maintenance program was signed into law by Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam. To qualify for the SEMA-supported exemption, the vehicles must be registered as “antique motor vehicles.” Previous law exempted only vehicles manufactured before the ’75 model year from emissions inspection. Antique vehicles are defined as more than 25 years old, equipped with non-modified engines and bodies and used for club activities, exhibits, tours, parades and similar uses as a collector’s item; on the highways for the purpose of selling, testing the operation of, or obtaining repairs or maintenance; and for general transportation on Saturday and Sunday.
Texas Street Rods/Customs:
SEMA-model legislation to create a vehicle registration classification for street rods and custom vehicles and provide for special license plates for these vehicles was approved by the full Texas House of Representatives. 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 measure provides for the use of non-original materials and creates a titling and registration criterion that assigns these vehicles the same model-year designations as the production vehicles they most closely resemble. The Senate Transportation Committee will now consider the bill.
Collector Car Appreciation Day:
At the request of SEMA and its Automotive Restoration Market Organization (ARMO) and Hot Rod Industry Alliance (HRIA) councils, the U.S. Senate passed Senate Resolution 154 to designate July 8 as Collector Car Appreciation Day (CCAD). The resolution was sponsored by Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) and Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) to raise awareness of the vital role automotive restoration and collection plays in American society. SEMA-member companies, car clubs and individuals are encouraged to organize CCAD events on July 8 or that weekend. A list of scheduled events is maintained on the SEMA Action Network website. Sponsored events will include car shows and cruises, small-business open houses and “drive your car to work” displays.
Business Activity Taxes:
The Business Activity Tax Simplification Act (BATSA) has been introduced in the House. The bipartisan bill would require a company to have a physical presence within a state before that state could impose a business activity tax or some other form of income tax. Several states, including Ohio, Michigan and Washington, have passed laws exposing companies to business activity taxes based on sales rather than physical presence. SEMA is working with a coalition of other organizations and companies to support passage of the bill. A Judiciary Subcommittee held a hearing on the measure in April.
SEMA has joined a number of other organizations representing the off-road industry and enthusiasts to support legislation that would release 42 million acres of land from a wilderness designation. The lands have been set aside as “wilderness study areas” or “inventoried roadless areas.” The wilderness designation is consequential since no mechanized activity is permitted on lands so designated. The issue is of keen interest to off-roaders and the SEMA-member companies that market products to those groups. Following extensive reviews, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service have identified the 42 million acres as not suitable as wilderness. The agencies would be directed to manage the lands for multiple uses.