SEMA News—April 2014
LEGISLATIVE AND TECHNICAL AFFAIRS
By Steve McDonald
Law and Order
Delaware Reconstructed Vehicles: Legislation to exempt reconstructed vehicles that are more than 25 years old from emissions testing was passed by the Delaware House on a 41–0 vote and will be considered by the Senate Public Safety Committee. Under the bill, the vehicle must continue to meet and be inspected for safety and anti-tampering requirements for its model year. In Delaware, “reconstructed vehicle” means a vehicle that has been assembled or constructed largely by means of essential parts, new or used, derived from other vehicles or makes of vehicles of various names, models and types, or that, if originally otherwise constructed, has been materially altered by the removal of essential parts or by the addition or substitution of essential parts, new or used, derived from other vehicles or makes of vehicles. Vehicles exempt from emissions testing can be used only for participation in club activities, exhibits, tours, parades and similar uses but not for general transportation or more than 1,000 miles per year.
Hawaii Exhaust Systems: SEMA is opposing legislation to require official inspection stations to test vehicles to determine if their exhaust systems “emit noise noticeably greater than that emitted by the vehicle as equipped from the factory.” Under the bill, inspection stations found to have issued a certificate of inspection in violation of this provision could be fined up to $1,000 and have their inspection permits suspended or revoked. Among other things, the bill provides no test by which vehicles could be tested and does not provide inspection stations with decibel readings on factory-installed exhaust systems.
Illinois Antique Vehicles: Legislation to provide that antique vehicles and expanded-use antique vehicles are required to display registration plates on only the rear of the vehicle has been introduced. The SEMA-supported bill also allows expanded-use antique vehicles to be operated year round with no restriction on destination or purpose. In Illinois, an antique vehicle is defined as a motor vehicle that is more than 25 years of age, is a bonafide replica or is a fire-fighting vehicle more than 20 years old that is not used as fire-fighting equipment. Under current law, expanded-use antique vehicles can be driven without limitation only during the warmer part of the year (April 1 through October 31). They are limited to traveling to and from car shows, exhibitions, servicing or demonstration during the colder months (November 1 through March 31).
Kansas Inoperable Vehicles: Legislation to provide counties with the authority to remove from private property motor vehicles deemed to be a “nuisance” was considered by the House Local Government Committee. Only cities are currently allowed that authority. In Kansas, maintaining a public nuisance means “intentionally causing or permitting a condition to exist which injures or endangers the public health, safety or welfare.” This definition provides no real guidance for motor vehicle owners maintaining inoperable vehicles on private property.
Kentucky Property Tax: Legislation has been introduced to change the valuation procedure on vehicles registered in the state for purposes of the property tax. The bill would value “newer vehicles” at the higher “clean trade-in” value instead of the lower “average trade-in” value at which they are currently assessed. The “clean trade-in” value is used when a vehicle is in excellent condition and not in need of repairs. The bill would also put a new valuation procedure in place for older vehicles. Vehicles 20 years old or older would no longer be presumed to be in “original factory” or “classic” condition. Original factory and classic vehicles are assessed as high-value collectibles.
Maryland Single License Plate: Legislation to require the issuance of only a single license plate for historic vehicles and street rods was considered by the House Environmental Matters Committee. Currently, only motorcycles, tractors and trailers can operate with a single plate. Under Maryland law, an historic vehicle includes a passenger vehicle, motorcycle or truck that is at least 20 years old and has not been substantially altered from the manufacturer’s original design. A street rod is a motor vehicle that is 25 years old or older and has been substantially altered from the manufacturer’s original design.
Michigan Historic Military Vehicles: Legislation 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 was passed by the Michigan Senate and will be considered by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Under the bill, if the plate is not attached to the exterior of the historic military vehicle, it must be present in the vehicle and available upon demand by law enforcement officers.
New Hampshire Ethanol: SEMA-supported legislation that prohibits a person from selling or offering for sale gasoline that contains corn-based ethanol as an additive at a level greater than 10% was introduced. A similar bill was signed into law last year in Maine. The bill recognizes that ethanol increases water formation, which can then corrode metals and dissolve plastics and rubber, especially over a period of time when the vehicle is not used. Current high-performance specialty parts along with pre-model-year ’01 cars and parts may be most susceptible to corrosion.
New Hampshire Year-of-Manufacture Plates: Legislation to expand the range of model-year vehicles eligible to use original year-of-manufacture license plates on antique motor vehicles was introduced. Currently, only ’60 and earlier model-year antique vehicles are eligible to use these plates. Under the bill, eligibility would be expanded to include all ’75 and earlier model years. In New Hampshire, an antique motor vehicle or motorcycle is “any motor vehicle over 25 years old which is maintained for use in exhibitions, club activities, parades and other functions of public interest.”
New Jersey Street Rods/Customs: A version of SEMA-model legislation that would create a vehicle registration classification for street rods and replica custom vehicles and provide for special license plates for these vehicles was reintroduced. 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.
New Jersey Single License Plate: Legislation has been introduced to require the issuance of only a single license plate for motor vehicles. The bill, favored by state hobbyists, requires that the single registration plate be attached on the rear of the vehicle. The measure would allow owners who were issued two license plates prior to the enactment and effective date of the bill to return one of the plates to the Motor Vehicle Commission.
New Jersey Historic Vehicles: Legislation that would amend the state’s current law governing historic motor vehicles to permit their use for pleasure driving one day per week has been reintroduced. Under current New Jersey law, use of historic vehicles is strictly limited to exhibitions and educational purposes by the owner.
Tennessee Antique Vehicles Tax: Identical legislation has been introduced in the Tennessee House and Senate to allow counties to exempt owners of antique motor vehicles from the privilege tax. The county may also require only a one-time payment of the tax. According to the state, the average amount of the one-time tax imposed would be $43.10. In Tennessee, an “antique motor vehicle” is a motor vehicle over 25 years old with a nonmodified engine and body that is used for participation in or transportation to and from 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 only on Saturday and Sunday.
Virginia Exhaust Systems: Legislation that would allow state antique vehicle hobbyists to install and use aftermarket exhaust systems will be considered by the House Transportation Committee. Currently, all vehicles are required to have exhaust systems of a type installed as standard factory equipment or comparable to that designed for use on the particular vehicle as standard factory equipment. Further, exhaust systems must not emit noise in excess of that permitted by the standard factory equipment. Under Virginia law, an antique motor vehicle is a motor vehicle that was actually manufactured or designated by the manufacturer as a model manufactured in a calendar year not less than 25 years prior to January 1 of each calendar year and is owned solely as a collector’s item.
Washington Single License Plate: Legislation has been introduced to require the issuance of only a single license plate for vehicles that do not include a front mounting bracket as manufactured. The bill would still require that owners issued one plate pay all applicable fees as if the vehicle had been issued two plates. Owners would also be issued an identifying sticker for the front windshield.
Washington Collectible Vehicles: Legislation to exempt collectible vehicles of any age from emissions testing will be considered by the House Environment Committee. The bill defines a collectible vehicle as a vehicle of unique or rare design, of limited production and an object of curiosity that is maintained primarily for use in car club activities, exhibitions, parades or other functions of public interest or for a private collection and is used only infrequently for other purposes. The measure also requires that the vehicle have collectible vehicle or classic automobile insurance coverage that restricts the collectible vehicle mileage or use, or both, and requires the owner to have another vehicle for personal use.
West Virginia Exhaust Noise: SEMA-model legislation that would allow state vehicle hobbyists to install and use aftermarket modified exhaust systems that meet a 95-decibel limit was reintroduced. Current West Virginia law allows only a muffler originally installed by the manufacturer or an equivalent. The bill would remedy the enforcement policy currently used by police officers in which nearly all exhaust system modifications are considered illegal, even where noise levels are not excessive or unusual. This policy leaves enthusiasts, exhaust system manufacturers and dealers without recourse.
West Virginia Property Tax: Legislation has been introduced to exempt automobiles, motorcycles, airplanes, trucks and tractors that are older than 25 years from personal property taxes. Under the bill, these automobiles and motorcycles would need to display valid current antique licenses and could not be used for daily transportation. Under West Virginia law, an “antique motor vehicle” means any motor vehicle that is more than 25 years old and is owned solely as a collector’s item. “Antique motorcycle” means any motorcycle that is more than 25 years old and is owned solely as a collector’s item.
West Virginia Collector Vehicles: Legislation to provide for the issuance of special plates for use on collector vehicles and allow for the transfer of the special plates temporarily between the collector motor vehicles owned by a collector was introduced. According to the bill sponsor, most cars 25 years old and older will qualify for the collector plates. The bill stipulates that a collector may operate collector vehicles on the streets and highways without registering each collector motor vehicle if the vehicle displays the special plate.
West Virginia Remote Starters: Legislation has been introduced to provide that a motor vehicle which has been started by use of a remote starter when the vehicle is locked is not an unattended vehicle and not in violation of the law. Under current state law, no person driving or in charge of a motor vehicle may permit it to stand unattended without first stopping the engine, locking the ignition, removing the key and effectively setting the brake.
West Virginia Antique Vehicle Taxes/Fees: A bill has been reintroduced to provide owners of antique motor vehicles with an exemption from taxation and fees. The bill is pending in the House Roads and Transportation Committee. West Virginia law defines an antique motor vehicle to include any motor vehicle that is more than 25 years old and is owned solely as a collector’s item. Under the bill, certificates of title and other required permits would also be granted free of charge.
“Right to Repair”: Major trade organizations representing automakers, independent repair chains and retailers reached an agreement to end a dispute regarding standardized access to onboard diagnostic service repair information. The agreement was triggered by enactment of legislation in Massachusetts to mandate uniformity and availability of the information. The agreement will require all automakers to make available to repair shops the same vehicle repair information they provide to their dealers. In addition, the deal allows repair shops to purchase that data with a computer over a standardized, Internet-based service. Starting with the ’18 model year, automakers will be required to offer nonproprietary interfaces for diagnosing problems with vehicles.