LEGISLATIVE AND TECHNICAL AFFAIRS
Law and Order
Legislation has been prefiled in Maryland to prohibit the use of historic vehicles for employment, transportation to employment or school and for commercial purposes.
Maryland Historic Vehicles: Legislation has been prefiled in Maryland to prohibit the use of historic vehicles for employment, transportation to employment or school and for commercial purposes. The bill would also subject historic vehicles of model-year ’86 and later to undergo periodic safety inspections. Last year, SEMA helped derail a bill that would have increased the age requirement for vehicles eligible for registration as historic, making it more difficult to register legitimate historic vehicles, which are already limited to club activities, exhibitions, tours, parades and occasional pleasure driving. The bill sought to address unsubstantiated claims of abuse without providing any real data. The state is already authorized by regulation to suspend the registration of any historic vehicle for use that is inconsistent with the registration requirements.
Missouri Legislation: Legislation has been prefiled in Missouri to exempt from sales tax vehicles at least 10 years old with a sales price under $15,000. A separate prefiled bill provides for the parking of unlicensed vehicles on private property if the vehicle is parked within the boundaries of the property, is parked on a surface generally considered to be suitable for parking and is not supported by any device other than its own wheels and tires, except for the limited purpose of repairing the vehicle for a period not to exceed 72 hours.
New Hampshire Legislation: Legislation has been prefiled in New Hampshire to amend existing law to delete lowered bumper restrictions on all vehicles. Currently, the state prohibits modifications that result in the bumper falling below the minimum distance of 16 in. Separate prefiled legislation exempts vehicles older than 15 years from the certificate-of-title requirement. Currently, only those vehicles manufactured prior to model-year ’00 are exempted.
New Jersey Emissions Tests: New Jersey officials are moving forward with a plan to eliminate the requirement that pre-’96 model-year motor vehicles undergo emissions testing, as the state will eliminate tailpipe emissions tests. The state plans to continue the onboard diagnostic tests used to check emissions on cars made since 1996. Officials believe that the revised requirements will save millions of dollars by reducing both the number of inspections at state facilities and the cost per inspection. The emissions test will continue to include visual checks for things such as liquid leaks and visible smoke, while the gas-cap check that tests whether fumes are escaping from a gas tank will switch to a visual inspection. In New Jersey, vehicles are inspected every other year and are exempted for their first five years.
Permanent Tax Credits: Before the U.S. Congress adjourned for 2015, lawmakers enacted legislation making two SEMA-supported tax credits permanent rather than extending them a year at a time. The research-and-development tax credit is now permanent, along with the Section 179 deduction limits that allow smaller companies to write off their capital investments up to $500,000 a year with a $2 million cap on annual investments, indexed for inflation. The bonus depreciation was renewed for investments in capital equipment made through 2019. However, it will also be gradually reduced from 50% depreciation through the end of 2017 to 40% depreciation in 2018 and 30% depreciation in 2019. Lawmakers extended through 2016 the seven-year recovery period for motorsports entertainment complexes.
Counterfeiting: As a result of its 2015 Out-of-Cycle Review of Notorious Markets, the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) issued a warning to Alibaba requiring that the global e-commerce company take steps to address counterfeiting or face re-listing on the Notorious Markets List. The agency indicated that complaints from industry stakeholders prompted a detailed discussion on how Alibaba has fallen short in its measures to address the issues plaguing its online shopping platform, Taobao. Specifically, the USTR recommended that Taobao’s takedown processes and procedures be simplified, made quicker and made generally available. Elsewhere in the report, the USTR highlights the dangers associated with the sale of counterfeit consumer products, including car parts, which could “endanger consumer health and safety as many counterfeits are made inexpensively with substandard or hazardous materials.”
Ethanol: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued final targets for the amount of ethanol to be blended into gasoline in 2014, 2015 and 2016, while relying on expanded sales of E15 (gas that contains 15% ethanol) in order to meet the targets. The EPA is required to set ethanol targets under the Renewable Fuel Standard. Ethanol, especially in higher concentrations such as E15, can cause metal corrosion and dissolve certain plastics and rubbers in automobiles produced before 2001 that were not constructed with ethanol-resistant materials. SEMA is working to enact legislation to repeal the EPA regulation authorizing E15 sales, cap the amount of ethanol blended into gasoline at 10%, and eliminate a mandate that 15 billion gallons of corn-based ethanol be blended into the U.S. fuel supply every year. SEMA has joined more than 50 other organizations from the auto, boat, food and energy industries to support passage of the legislation.
Toxic Chemical Reforms: The U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate have passed differing bills to overhaul the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Lawmakers will now convene a conference committee to see if it is possible to agree on a single approach. Enacted in 1976, the TSCA directs the EPA to regulate existing and new chemicals. The EPA can consider whether chemicals already in the marketplace pose an unreasonable risk to health or to the environment. The EPA assesses newer chemicals before they enter the market, whereby manufacturers must submit a premanufacturing notification to the EPA prior to producing or importing the chemical for commercial purposes. Both House and Senate bills would seek to improve the current EPA review process for chemicals already in the marketplace, simplify a patchwork of state and local laws, and include a provision requiring EPA to assess chemicals based only on health and safety information rather than using cost as a factor.
OHV Access: The National Park Service (NPS) has proposed a new plan for regulating off-highway vehicle access to the Cape Lookout National Seashore, a 56-mile-long section of the Southern Outer Banks in North Carolina. The NPS is responding to requirements to manage motorized recreation while protecting wildlife and endangered species. The NPS proposal relies on designated routes and establishes a permit system capped at 5,500 annual permits. After a one-year grace period, only non-sport ATVs and UTVs would be permitted access, with a 25-mile-per-hour speed limit.