SEMA News—March 2012
LEGISLATIVE and TECHNICAL AFFAIRS
By Steve McDonald
Law and Order
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.
(Canada) Quebec Emissions Inspections:
The province of Quebec, Canada, has drafted legislation to create a mandatory motor-vehicle inspection and maintenance program. Slated to begin in 2013, vehicles would be required to undergo an emissions inspection as a condition for registration. According to the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks, the program is intended to follow the example of six other Canadian provinces and is expected to be implemented in phases: 1) All vehicles eight years and older will be required to pass inspection before being sold; 2) all vehicles eight years and older will be required to pass inspection regardless of whether or not they are being sold; 3) all vehicles (including new vehicles) will be required to pass inspection. According to the Ministry, the legislation is expected to be reviewed over the course of two years, and language specifying the age limits of vehicles to be tested, including whether historic and collector vehicles would be exempted, are still under consideration. SEMA is working with representatives of the National Association of Automobile Clubs of Canada and other enthusiast groups to ensure that the program makes reasonable accommodations for rarely used and well-maintained hobbyist cars and is fairly applied to all other vehicles.
Maine Tire Size:
SEMA is monitoring a Maine resolution to direct the Department of Public Safety, Bureau of State Police, to review its rules governing motor-vehicle inspection requirements regarding tire size. The resolution requires the solicitation of input from interested parties and the development of recommendations designed to eliminate unnecessary restrictions while maintaining necessary safety requirements. The resolution requires the bureau to report to the joint standing committee of the legislature having jurisdiction over transportation matters.
New Jersey New Car Exemption:
In 2010, SEMA-supported legislation to extend the emissions inspection exemption to vehicles five model years old or newer was signed into law, subject to approval by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Previous law exempted only vehicles four model years old or newer. The EPA is now proposing action to incorporate revisions to the State Implementation Plan submitted by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to improve performance of the state’s Inspection and Maintenance program. Chief among the amendments that the EPA is proposing to approve is the extension of the new-vehicle inspection exemption from four years to five years because it meets all applicable requirements of the Clean Air Act and the agency’s regulations and will not interfere with attainment of ambient air-quality standards. This action acknowledges the relatively minimal environmental impact of the vehicles targeted for this exemption and that it is senseless to test newer vehicles, the results of which demonstrate no significant air-quality benefits.
Texas Street Rods/Custom Vehicles:
SEMA issued comments to a Texas Department of Motor Vehicles proposed regulation implementing standards for the initial safety inspection of street rods and custom vehicles. The proposal was drafted pursuant to the enactment into law last year of SEMA-model legislation to create a vehicle registration classification for street rods and customs (including kit cars and replicas) and provide for special license plates for these vehicles. Under the proposed regulation, the department will require an owner to provide proof of a safety inspection to the department on initial registration, including registration at the time of title transfer. In addition, the applicant must provide proof that an Automotive Service Excellence technician performed a safety inspection with valid certification as a Certified Master Automobile and Light Truck Technician. Further, the inspection must certify that the vehicle “is structurally stable” and “meets the necessary conditions to be operated safely on the roadway.” In its comments, SEMA recommended that these inspection opportunities be provided to any inspector who has met the applicable requirements and is licensed by the Department of Public Safety Motor Vehicle Inspection Office; further define the vague terms “is structurally stable” and “meets the necessary conditions to be operated safely on the roadway;” and standardize the fee charged for the inspection of these vehicles to conform to the fee charged for the inspection of vehicles subjected to yearly inspections ($14.50).
Collector Car Appreciation Day:
SEMA and its Automotive Restoration Market Organization and Hot Rod Industry Alliance councils announced July 13, 2012, as Collector Car Appreciation Day (CCAD). The date marks the third commemoration in what has become an annual event to raise awareness of the vital role automotive restoration and collection plays in American society. SEMA and its councils are again working to secure a Congressional resolution to recognize the day’s significance. Two previous Senate resolutions have been sponsored by Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) and Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), both strong advocates for the automotive hobby in Washington. CCAD is a singular tribute to the collector car industry and the millions of hobbyists it supports. Thousands of Americans gather at car cruises, parades and other events to celebrate our nation’s automotive heritage. SEMA and its councils will again seek to organize CCAD events on July 13 or anytime during July.
Employee Rights Poster:
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) postponed the start date for a rule requiring employers to display a poster informing workers of their right to unionize and bargain collectively. The rule is now scheduled to take effect on April 30, 2012. The rule is widely opposed by business groups, including SEMA, over concerns that it unfairly promotes unionization. The rule was scheduled to take effect last November but was delayed by the NLRB until January in order to provide more time to make private-sector employers aware of their obligation to post the notice. The rule has been delayed a second time at the request of a U.S. District Court that is considering legal challenges to the rule. The 11- x 17-in. notice poster can be downloaded for free at www.nlrb.gov/poster.
Keyless Ignition Systems:
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) wants to create uniform minimum standards to cover the types of keyless ignition controls being installed in many new cars. The goal is to make it easier for drivers to stop a moving vehicle during a panic situation and to alert drivers who attempt to leave a vehicle without it being “locked in park” or with the engine still running. NHTSA is proposing to require a half-second hold time to shut down the vehicle when the driver pushes the ignition control, along with a standardized audible warning when the car is being turned off without being in the park position. The revisions would be included in Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 114, Theft Prevention and Rollaway Protection. They would likely not take effect until model year 2015.
Trucker’s Hours of Service:
Truck drivers may be on the road up to 11 hours daily but must take a minimum break of at least 30 minutes after eight hours under a new rule issued by the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The “hours of service” rule covering commercial motor vehicles has been debated for more than a decade. The FMCSA reduced the maximum number of hours a driver can work during the week from 82 to 70. The requirement that there be a 34-hour rest period between the end of one week and the start of another remains unchanged. The new rule takes effect on July 1, 2013. Although the rule is generally associated with long-haul carriers, any manufacturer, distributor or retailer may be impacted if shipping schedules or transportation costs are adjusted as a result of the new rule.