LEGISLATIVE AND TECHNICAL AFFAIRS
Arkansas Historic Vehicles: After an outpouring of opposition statewide, legislation to substantially increase the age requirement for vehicles eligible for registration as historic or special-interest vehicles was withdrawn by the sponsor. Under the bill, the age requirement would have been raised from 25 to at least 45 years old. The bill also would have required that a historic-vehicle owner have registered one or more vehicles used for daily transportation. The bill had been introduced and rushed through the committee process on a single day before being withdrawn from consideration on the House floor.
Colorado Coal Rolling: Legislation was approved by the full House to prohibit a person from blowing black smoke through one or more exhaust pipes attached to a motor vehicle in a manner that would harass another driver, bicyclist or pedestrian or obstruct or obscure their view. The bill will next be considered in the Senate State, Veterans, & Military Affairs Committee.
Connecticut Antique Vehicles: A bill to increase the age requirement of an antique, rare or special-interest motor vehicle from 20 years old or older to 30 years old or older will be considered by the Joint Committee on Finance, Revenue and Bonding. The bill would also increase the maximum property tax assessment on any antique, rare or special-interest motor vehicle from $500–$1,000.
Connecticut Coal Rolling: The Joint Environment Committee approved a bill that provides that “no person shall operate a motor vehicle in a manner that causes a visual exhibition of smoke that consists of the release of soot, smoke or other particulate emissions to the air and onto roadways, other motor vehicles, bicyclists or pedestrians.” Under the bill, the smoke would have to cause a reasonable person to feel harassed, obstruct any person’s view of the roadway, or create a hazard to a motor vehicle operator, bicyclist or pedestrian.
Georgia Ethanol: A Georgia Senate resolution was approved by the Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee to urge the U.S. Congress to eliminate all requirements for the use of ethanol as a fuel for vehicles and equipment. The Rules Committee will next consider the bill. The resolution highlights the fact that ethanol increases water formation, resulting in the corrosion of metals, plastics and rubber, and that high-performance specialty parts, along with older cars and parts, may be most susceptible to such corrosion.
Idaho Single Plate: A measure to allow for a single rear plate for motor vehicles that were not originally equipped with a display bracket on the front of the vehicle was not approved by the Idaho House of Representatives on a 28–42 vote. The House Transportation and Defense Committee had approved the bill.
Illinois Single Plate: Legislation has been reintroduced 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. Earlier this year, separate legislation was introduced to provide that motor vehicles with a weight rating of 8,000 lbs. or less, registered as “secondary vehicles,” and driven less than 5,000 miles per year may display only a single plate on the rear of the vehicle.
Kentucky Off-Highway Vehicles: An effort to promote and fund outdoor recreation and tourism development by establishing the Kentucky Mountain Regional Recreation Authority has been approved by the Kentucky House. The bill now moves to the Senate Committee on Natural Resources & Energy for consideration. The measure would provide recreational opportunities for, among other things, all-terrain vehicle riding, motorcycle riding, rock climbing, off-highway vehicle driving and pleasure driving.
Iowa Single Plate: Legislation has been reintroduced in Iowa to require the issuance of only a single license plate for motor vehicles. The bill requires that the single registration plate be attached on the rear of the vehicle. Separate legislation was also reintroduced to require the issuance of only a single rear license plate for sports cars and those vehicles registered as antiques. Iowa defines an antique vehicle as a motor vehicle 25 years old or older. The bill defines a “sports car” as meaning a motor vehicle that was originally manufactured with seats for two passengers, with a front bumper that sits 8 in. from the ground or less, and is capable of exceeding 130 miles per hour. Earlier this year, a bill was also introduced to broaden the single plate allowance to include motor vehicles that are 30 model years old or older as well as those reconstructed or specially constructed vehicles built to resemble motor vehicles that are 30 model years old or older.
Maryland Miles-Traveled Tax: A bill is being considered by the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee to prohibit the state or a local jurisdiction from imposing a vehicle miles-traveled tax or other similar fees, tolls or taxes. The measure would also prohibit the state or a local jurisdiction from requiring the installation of a device in or on a privately owned vehicle to facilitate the reporting of vehicle miles traveled.
Massachusetts Single Plate: Legislation has been introduced to allow vehicle owners to choose whether or not to display a front license plate. The bill also gives the option of allowing owners to display a decorative plate on the front of a vehicle. The Massachusetts Joint Transportation Committee will consider the bill. The measure defines a “decorative plate” as meaning a plate not issued by the state and that is not intended for and cannot be mistaken as legal identification.
Missouri Historic Trailers: Legislation was approved by the Missouri House to allow a camping or fifth-wheel trailer more than 25 years old to be permanently registered for a $52.50 fee. The bill also allows those possessing a year-of-manufacture license plate more than 25 years old to use the plate as a historic-trailer plate if the configuration of letters and numbers has not been issued to someone else. Under the bill, the owner of the historic trailer must keep the certificate of registration in the trailer at all times.
Missouri Single Plate: Legislation will be considered by the Senate Transportation, Infrastructure and Public Safety Committee to require the issuance of only a single license plate for motor vehicles. The bill also applies to personalized plates. If enacted into law, the measure would still accommodate registered owners eligible to receive a second plate, including certain property-carrying commercial motor vehicle applicants.
West Virginia Abandoned Vehicles: A bill was approved by the House Roads and Transportation Committee to create a special procedure for a person in possession of an abandoned antique vehicle to apply for and receive title to the vehicle. Under the bill, the Division of Motor Vehicles would search for the owner of the vehicle and provide notice that an application has been filed for title to the vehicle. Antique motor vehicles are those vehicles manufactured more than 25 years before the current date. The House Judiciary Committee will next consider the bill.
Montana Single Plate: A bill was amended and approved by the Montana House to provide for the issuance of a single rear-mounted license plate for certain motor vehicles. Under the amendment, “if a person is not able to comply with the requirement that a front license plate be displayed because of the body construction of the motor vehicle, the person may submit to the Highway Patrol an application for a waiver along with a $25 inspection fee.” Vehicle owners would not be obligated to apply for the waiver or pay the fee. The bill will now be sent to the Senate Highways and Transportation Committee.
New Hampshire Road Usage Fee: Despite being approved by the House Ways and Means Committee, legislation to establish a road-usage fee for all state motor vehicles with a miles-per-gallon rating of more than 22.5 will not be considered by the full House and is essentially dead for the year. The bill would have required that the fee be collected at the time of annual registration of the vehicle. In addition to creating privacy concerns, road-usage fees penalize national efforts to create a more fuel-efficient vehicle fleet by taxing drivers based on vehicle mileage. As gas tax revenues decrease due to hybrid and electric-vehicle ownership, states are looking for new sources of funding for pet projects.
New Jersey Warranty: Legislation was introduced to require new-car dealers to provide purchasers with a written statement declaring that it is illegal for manufacturers or dealers to void a warranty or deny coverage because aftermarket or recycled parts were installed or because someone other than the dealer performed service. The bill is an identical companion to legislation introduced last year in the Assembly. The bill will be sent to the Senate Commerce Committee for consideration. The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act regulates warranties for the protection of consumers and provides that vehicle manufacturers may not deny warranty coverage based on the use of an aftermarket part alone.
Oregon Old-Car Tax: A bill that would have required registered owners of vehicles 20 years old and older to pay a $1,000 “impact tax” every five years was quickly killed after an onslaught of objections were lodged by vehicle owners in the state. Under the bill, vehicles registered as antiques would have been exempted from the tax. House Speaker Tina Kotek’s office confirmed with SEMA that the bill will not be considered and was dead on arrival.
Texas Single Plate: Legislation to require the issuance of a single motor-vehicle license plate for attachment at the rear of a vehicle was introduced. The bill would apply to passenger cars and light trucks, including pickup trucks, panel delivery trucks and carryall trucks that have a manufacturer’s rated carrying capacity of 2,000 lbs. or less.
Virginia Antique Tax: After passing in both the House and Senate, a bill has been sent to the governor for his signature and enactment into law to exempt a motor vehicle, trailer or semitrailer that is licensed as an antique vehicle from the imposition of local license tax and fees. Virginia law defines an antique motor vehicle as “every motor vehicle which 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.”
West Virginia Off-Highway Vehicles: Legislation was approved by the Senate Natural Resources Committee to empower two or more contiguous counties to form regional authorities to establish new recreational trail systems and management programs tailored to the needs of their communities. The bill would require that those authorities work on those initiatives with private landowners, county officials, community leaders, government agencies, recreational user groups and recreational entrepreneurs. The Senate Committee on Government Organization will next consider the bill.
West Virginia Exhaust Noise: Legislation has been reintroduced that would make it a criminal offense to disturb the peace. Included in the definition of disturbing the peace is the “noise from an exhaust system of any vehicle that is not equipped or constructed so as to prevent any disturbing or unreasonably loud noise.” Vehicle owners convicted of a violation would be fined up to $1,000 per occurrence, confined up to six months in jail, or both. Current West Virginia law allows only a muffler originally installed by the manufacturer or an equivalent. The law provides no objective noise measurement standard for exhaust systems that would benefit consumers, industry, or police officers who are charged with enforcing the law.
West Virginia License Plates: Legislation has been introduced to require registration plates on the front and back of motor vehicles. The bill would ensure that two license plates would be issued for both specialty and regular applications. The bill has been referred to the Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for consideration.
RPM Act: The Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports (RPM) Act is off to a fast start in 2017. Reintroduced in both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate in January, the RPM Act clarifies that the federal law allows motor vehicles to be converted into dedicated race cars and that it is legal to produce, sell and install race parts for these vehicles. SEMA members are playing an integral role in raising the profile of the RPM Act in the halls of Congress. Letters and emails from member companies, their employees and enthusiasts have been extremely helpful in building support for the RPM Act, which already has more than 100 House sponsors and more than 25 sponsors in the Senate. If you haven’t already signed a letter to your members of Congress, please visit www.sema.org/rpm.
Regulatory Reform: The U.S. Congress and the Trump Administration are pursuing a number of separate and overlapping initiatives to change the way federal agencies make and review regulations.
Executive Orders: In January, President Trump directed all government agencies to cut two existing regulations for each new regulation proposed and freeze issuance of any new regulations pending review. The freeze does not apply to emergency situations or other urgent circumstances. Regulations that are in progress but have not yet taken effect are also frozen for 60 days, pending review of fact, law and policy. In February, President Trump directed federal agencies to establish task forces to review existing rules and identify outdated, unnecessary or ineffective rules that impact job creation or impose costs that exceed benefits. Normal procedures would still apply if agencies were seeking to eliminate existing rules, namely issuance of a proposed and final rule subject to public comment and court review.
Legislation: The U.S. House of Representatives has already passed several bills that are now awaiting Senate consideration. The Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act would require congressional approval of regulations before they can take effect. The Regulatory Accountability Act would require federal agencies to identify the objective of a proposed rule and choose the lowest-cost alternative.
The Searching for and Cutting Regulations That Are Unnecessarily Burdensome Act would set up a five-year Congressional commission to review rules ripe for repeal. The Regulatory Integrity Act would require federal agencies to post an online record of rules and their status. Another bill would allow Congress to have joint oversight of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, which reviews rules proposed by the federal agencies within the White House Office of Management and Budget. It is unclear whether the U.S. Senate will be able to pass these bills, since a 60-vote super majority will likely be required.
Under an existing law called the Congressional Review Act, Congress also has the authority to repeal rules already issued within the last 60 legislative days. The rule can be overturned by a simple majority vote in both the House and Senate, followed by presidential signature. Members of Congress are considering this approach for several rules issued before President Trump took office.