Law and Order

SEMA News—February 2017

LEGISLATIVE AND TECHNICAL AFFAIRS

By Steve McDonald

Law and Order

  New Jersey Street Rods
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 those vehicles remains pending in the New Jersey Assembly. 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 that the body of the vehicle most closely resembles.
   

STATE UPDATE

California Legislature: In a closely watched election battle, Democrat Josh Newman defeated Republican Assemblywoman Ling Ling Chang to win the race for the 29th Senate District in California. The victory gives the Democrats a two-thirds supermajority in both houses of the legislature. With a supermajority, Democrats can now raise taxes, place measures on the statewide ballot, enact laws immediately with an “urgency” clause, and override a governor’s veto. Democrats last held a supermajority in both chambers in 2012.

Texas Single Plate: Legislation has been prefiled in the Texas House for the 2017 legislative session to provide for the issuance and display of a single license plate for passenger cars and light trucks. Under the bill, the single plate would be attached at the rear of the vehicle. The measure allows vehicle owners to display two license plates if the plates were assigned to the vehicle for the registration period as a set of plates.

FEDERAL UPDATE

Toxic Chemical Law: The EPA identified 10 chemicals to be evaluated as potentially hazardous compounds under the 2016 update to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The agency can now override a patchwork of state rules and regulate hazardous substances. The law provides the EPA with three years to determine if a chemical poses an “unreasonable risk” and an additional two years to mitigate that risk through regulations, which could include banning the use of the substance. TSCA now applies to thousands of chemicals found in a diverse range of products from paint thinners and degreasers to clothing. The agency’s full 10-chemical list includes 1,4-dioxane, 1-bromopropane, asbestos, carbon tetrachloride, cyclic aliphatic bromide cluster, methylene chloride, n-methylpyrrolidone, pigment violet 29, tetrachloroethylene (also known as perchloroethylene) and trichloroethylene.

E/15 Ethanol

E15/Ethanol: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued final targets for the amount of ethanol to be blended into gasoline in 2017, relying on expanded voluntary 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 (RFS), a law designed to reduce the nation’s dependency on foreign oil. Ethanol produced from corn has been the primary fuel used to meet the RFS mandates. However, ethanol can cause metal corrosion and dissolve certain plastics and rubbers in automobiles produced before 2001 that were not constructed with ethanol-resistant materials, especially when the ethanol is in higher concentrations such as E15. SEMA is hopeful that 2017 will provide an opportunity to reform the RFS in ways that protect the industry and the enthusiast community from E15.  
     

Driver Distraction Guidelines: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued proposed voluntary guidelines intended to help address driver distraction associated with mobile and other electronic devices in vehicles. The agency has already issued voluntary Phase 1 guidelines covering devices installed in new vehicles, such as “information, navigation, communications and entertainment” products that require drivers to take their eyes off the road and hands off the wheel. Those guidelines recommend that operating a device not require more than two seconds at one time (12 seconds total to perform) and one hand to achieve. The voluntary Phase 2 guidelines will focus on cellphones, smartphones and other mobile devices. Among other recommendations, the proposed guidelines encourage manufacturers to design products that incorporate pairing (linking to the vehicle’s infotainment system), “driver mode” or other features to help keep drivers’ eyes and hands engaged in operating the vehicle.

Overtime Pay: A federal judge in Texas placed a nationwide hold on a U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) regulation that would raise wages for an estimated 4.2 million salaried workers. The regulation was scheduled to take effect on December 1, 2016, increasing the minimum salary threshold required to qualify for the Fair Labor Standards Act’s “salaried worker” exemption to $47,476 per year. Under the old regulation, management, administrative and professional employees who earn a salary of more than $23,660 per year are exempt from receiving overtime pay when they work more than 40 hours per week. The court ruling provides the Trump administration with a chance to delay, eliminate or reshape the DOL regulation and includes exceptions for small-business owners.

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