Law and Order

SEMA News—May 2012

LEGISLATIVE & 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.

STATE UPDATE

  Aftermarket Parts Laws, Aftermarket Parts Regulation, Automotive Legislation, Federal Regulation Aftermarket Parts, Offroad Industry Legislation
SEMA is opposing Connecticut legislation to increase the age requirement for vehicles eligible for registration as “antique, rare or special-interest motor vehicles.”
   

Connecticut Antique/Rare/Special-Interest Motor Vehicles: SEMA is opposing Connecticut legislation to increase the age requirement for vehicles eligible for registration as “antique, rare or special-interest motor vehicles.” Under the bill, vehicles seeking registration as antique, rare or special-interest motor vehicles would be required to be at least 30 years old. Currently, vehicles 20 years old or older are eligible for this status and special license plates. For the purpose of property taxes, the bill also increases the maximum assessment of these vehicles from $500 to $2,000.

Hawaii Collector Car Appreciation Day:Resolutions have been introduced in the Hawaii House of Representatives and Senate seeking recognition by the state for July 13, 2012, as “Collector Car Appreciation Day.” Earlier this year, SEMA announced this date to mark 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 is again working to secure a U.S. Congressional resolution to recognize the day’s significance. In the previous two years, thousands of Americans have gathered at car cruises, parades and other events to celebrate the nation’s automotive heritage.

Illinois Ethanol: The Illinois House Revenue & Finance Committee will consider legislation allowing the state’s Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to provide information to gas stations encouraging the stations to offer E15 as an option for customers. The bill also allows the department to provide information to gas stations on any financial assistance that may be available to subsidize the cost of providing E15 blended fuel to consumers. The bill was introduced despite the fact that a bill is moving through the U.S. House of Representatives that would require the National Academy of Sciences to further analyze the effects of E15 on engines and other components before the EPA can permit its sale.

Maryland Historic Vehicles: The Maryland House Environmental Matters Committee will put aside legislation that originally threatened to limit the use of historic vehicles despite the inclusion of SEMA amendments that would have protected the vehicle owners. House and Senate lawmakers intend to further research the issue. SEMA has committed to bill sponsors that it will continue to participate in efforts to help enact a version of the bill next year that will allow these vehicles continued eligibility for the historic class upon their 20th year, not require collector insurance policies and retain the “occasional use” provision.

  Aftermarket Parts Laws, Aftermarket Parts Regulation, Automotive Legislation, Federal Regulation Aftermarket Parts, Offroad Industry Legislation
A version of SEMA-model legislation to create a vehicle registration classification for street rods and replica custom vehicles and provide for special license plates for these vehicles was reintroduced in the New Jersey Assembly.
   

New Jersey Street Rods/Customs: A version of SEMA-model legislation to create a vehicle registration classification for street rods and replica custom vehicles and provide for special license plates for these vehicles was reintroduced in the New Jersey Assembly. Last year, comparable legislation was not enacted into law in New Jersey prior to the legislature’s adjournment. The bill defines a street rod as an altered vehicle manufactured before 1948 and a custom as an altered vehicle at least 25 years old and manufactured after 1948. The bill allows a kit car or replica vehicle to be assigned a certificate of title bearing the same model-year designation the body of the vehicle most closely resembles.

Utah Vintage Travel Trailers: A SEMA-supported bill to create a statutory definition of a “vintage travel trailer” and provide for a one-time $40 registration fee was approved by the Utah State Legislature and now moves to the governor for his signature and enactment into law. Under the bill, vintage travel trailers would also be eligible for a special group license plate and would be exempted from wheel cover, mudguard, flap or splash apron requirements. The measure defines a “vintage travel trailer” as a travel trailer, camping trailer or fifth-wheel trailer that is 30 years old or older and primarily a collector’s item that is used for participation in club activities, exhibitions, tours, parades, occasional recreational or vacation use and other similar uses.

Virginia Restoration Projects: Legislation that originally threatened to provide localities with the authority to raise the amount charged from $100 to $500 for an annual license tax for vehicles that do not display current license plates was approved by the Virginia State Legislature and now has been sent to the governor for his signature and enactment into law. Additional amendments to the bill drafted by SEMA will now totally exempt from the license tax all vehicles and parts cars that are stored on private property for the purpose of restoration or repair. Vehicles stored within a structure would remain exempted from the tax.

  Aftermarket Parts Laws, Aftermarket Parts Regulation, Automotive Legislation, Federal Regulation Aftermarket Parts, Offroad Industry Legislation
A version of SEMA-model legislation to create a vehicle registration classification for street rods and replica custom vehicles and provide for special license plates for these vehicles was reintroduced in the New Jersey Assembly.
   

Washington Restoration/Custom Shops:A SEMA-supported bill to exempt restoration and custom shops from the requirement that they provide written estimates for the repair of any vehicle that qualifies for a “horseless carriage” or “collector vehicle” license plate or is a “parts car,” “street rod” or “custom vehicle” was signed into law by Governor Chris Gregoire. Under a SEMA-drafted provision, the bill would allow restoration and custom shops to bill at least every two weeks on a time-and-materials basis. Shops would be able to accurately inform customers of actual costs and materials, removing vagueness associated with shops attempting to “guess” probable time for unique tasks and probable costs for unique and in some cases yet-to-be-fabricated parts.

West Virginia Property Tax: A bill that originally provided a fair cap on property taxes paid by owners of antique and classic motor vehicles was amended and approved by the West Virginia State Legislature with a new $5,000 assessed value for all of these cars. The previous version of the bill contained an assessed value provision of $1,000, which meant that the maximum actual property tax paid by antique or classic motor vehicle owners would be only about $30 per year. Under the version that was approved by the entire Legislature and sent to the governor for his consideration, the actual maximum tax paid would be $150. This bill now benefits only antique and classic vehicle owners whose cars are worth more than $5,000. It would penalize antique and classic vehicle owners whose cars are worth less than $5,000.

Wisconsin Motor VehicleRegistration Rights: Legislation that originally sought to provide legal registration to hobby vehicles with clear titles, required safety equipment and in good working order was passed unanimously by the Wisconsin Senate and will now be considered by the House. However, the bill was amended to now affect only Former Military Vehicles due to opposition from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. Several pro-hobby provisions of the bill with application to all hobby vehicles were eliminated to allow it to pass in the Senate. While the amended bill does not solve the many problems associated with registering a hobby car in Wisconsin, it does provide incremental improvement to the rules governing Former Military Vehicles.

FEDERAL UPDATE

  Aftermarket Parts Laws, Aftermarket Parts Regulation, Automotive Legislation, Federal Regulation Aftermarket Parts, Offroad Industry Legislation
SEMA is compiling a list of events being organized to commemorate Friday, July 13, 2012, as Collector Car Appreciation Day (CCAD).
   
  Aftermarket Parts Laws, Aftermarket Parts Regulation, Automotive Legislation, Federal Regulation Aftermarket Parts, Offroad Industry Legislation
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued proposed guidelines intended to limit the risk of driver distraction from in-vehicle electronic devices that are not directly applicable to driving.

Collector Car Appreciation Day: SEMA is compiling a list of events being organized to commemorate Friday, 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 Automotive Restoration Market Organization and Hot Rod Industry Alliance encourage SEMA-member companies to host an event, organize a “drive your collector car to work” campaign or otherwise honor the day. CCAD celebrates the nation’s automotive heritage and the well-paying, high-skilled jobs that are supported through vehicle restoration and customization. Individuals, car clubs and business owners interested in publicizing events should contact Colby Martin at san@sema.org. If you are unable to celebrate on the 13th, SEMA encourages events to be scheduled throughout the month of July. Events are listed at www.semasan.com.

Distracted Drivers: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued proposed guidelines intended to limit the risk of driver distraction from in-vehicle electronic devices that are not directly applicable to driving. The draft guidelines would be voluntary and apply specifically to original equipment installed in new light-duty vehicles. The electronic devices covered include “information, navigation, communications and entertainment” products that require drivers to take their eyes off the road and hands off the wheel. For example, certain functions such as inputting an address into a navigation system, text messaging, dialing a phone number or browsing the Internet would be disabled until the vehicle is in park. Operations that require less than two seconds and one hand to achieve would be permitted. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers has already developed a set of best practices for telematic devices that forms a basis for NHTSA’s draft guidelines. In the future, the agency intends to issue a second guidance document for aftermarket products. Such devices include smart phones, electronic tablets and other mobile communications devices. NHTSA could also issue a third set of guidelines covering voice-activated control devices offered by the automakers and aftermarket.

EPA Chromium EmissionStandards: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed new emissions standards for chromium electroplating and anodizing operations. For decorative chrome plating, the EPA wants to lower the emissions levels for existing sources from 0.01 milligrams per dry standard cubic meter (mg/dscm) to 0.007 mg/dscm. New sources would be required to meet a 0.006 mg/dscm limit. The EPA is also pursuing a reduction in the bath surface tension, arguing that it will achieve further reductions in actual emissions. The agency would ban the use of perflouroctyle sulfonates, substances that reduce the bath surface tension. SEMA is concerned that alternative wetting-agent fume suppressants are not as effective and that businesses may have a difficult time meeting the new standards. SEMA also questions the need for additional regulations at a time when, according to the EPA’s own data, industry’s emissions have been reduced by 99.7% since 1995. The plating and finishing industry’s total U.S. emissions are less than 1% of all chromium emissions from various other sources.

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