SEMA News—January 2014
LEGISLATIVE AND TECHNICAL AFFAIRS
By Steve McDonald
Law and Order
Massachusetts Exhaust Noise: The Joint Transportation Committee heard testimony on a bill that would ban the “use and sale of any exhaust pipe that increases the sound emission of any vehicle, including motorcycles.” While the bill remains eligible for an executive session by the committee, no vote has yet been taken. This bill, opposed by SEMA, only supplies law enforcement with a clear standard to enforce for motorcycles but would allow them to make subjective judgments on whether a modified exhaust system on any passenger vehicle or truck is in violation.
Massachusetts Single Plate: SEMA is supporting a bill to require the issuance of only a single license plate for motor vehicles. The Joint Transportation Committee considered the bill, but no vote has yet been taken. The measure, favored by state hobbyists, requires that the single registration plate be attached on the rear of applicable motor vehicles.
Michigan Historic Military Vehicles: Legislation has been introduced in the Senate to exempt historic military vehicles from the requirement that they display a license plate unless the vehicle was originally manufactured with lighting and mounting provisions for a plate. Under the bill, the plate must be present in the vehicle and available upon demand by law enforcement officers if it is not attached to the exterior of the historic military vehicle.
Ohio Headlamps: SEMA is working with Ohio legislators to ensure that legislation to require headlamps to display a “white light” would further incorporate federal standards regarding lighting equipment. Under the federal lighting standard, it is possible to design a headlamp that emits a light that is perceived as having a blue tint but which nevertheless remains within the boundaries that define “white.”
Wisconsin Collector Cars: The full Wisconsin Assembly passed SEMA-supported legislation to allow minor modifications to collector vehicles, exempt former military vehicles, historic military vehicles and collector vehicles from importer certification label requirements and expand rights for historic military vehicle owners. Having already been approved by the Senate, the bill will now be sent to Governor Scott Walker for his signature and enactment into law. The measure would allow modifications to vehicles registered as collector vehicles as long as the bodies of these vehicles are not modified. Currently, upgrades such as safety glass, radial tires, a radio or hubcaps are reasons to deny registration.
Back-Up Cameras for New Cars: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has included a recommendation in its New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) encouraging manufacturers to equip new vehicles with rearview video systems. The cameras are intended to prevent accidents by alerting drivers when pedestrians are behind the vehicles. NCAP has a five-star rating system for raising consumer awareness about crashworthiness and rollover safety information. The NCAP recommendation is separate from NHTSA’s proposed rule to revise Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 111 (Rear View Mirrors) to require that all new passenger cars be equipped with rearview camera systems. Under a law passed in 2008, NHTSA had until 2011 to issue the rule to be phased in by 2014. While the law permitted sensors, mirrors or other devices to provide drivers with rearward information, NHTSA determined that a camera and dashboard display-screen system was the best solution. The automakers have generally objected to not being provided more flexibility in determining cost-effective ways to achieve the goal. A lawsuit has been filed in federal court to require NHTSA to issue a final rule and make the cameras mandatory. As of 2012, about 44% of new cars included rear cameras as standard equipment and another 27% offered the equipment as an option.
Health-Care Law: SEMA has created a webpage (www.sema.org/healthcare) with information to help members understand the “Affordable Care Act.” The so-called “Obamacare” requires employers with 50 or more fulltime workers to offer health-care insurance or be subject to a $2,000 fine per employee. The “play or pay” mandate takes effect on January 1, 2014, but will not be enforced until 2015 to give the business community more time to understand and comply with the law. The decision does not affect small employers with fewer than 50 workers, since they are not required to offer insurance under the law. All employers were required to provide written notice of available health-care coverage options to their employees by October 2013 and to future workers going forward, regardless of company size or whether the company offers health-care coverage. The notice may be distributed electronically. Links to a sample notice are posted on the SEMA health-care webpage. There is no penalty for failure to distribute the notice.