LEGISLATIVE AND TECHNICAL AFFAIRS
Law and Order
South Dakota—Special-Interest Vehicles: Governor Dennis Daugaard signed into law a bill that increases the mileage limitation for special-interest vehicles from 6,000–7,500 miles per year, along with the option of putting personalized plates on the vehicles. A special-interest vehicle is a motor vehicle that is collected, preserved, restored or maintained by the owner as a leisure pursuit and is not used for general or commercial transportation.
California—CARB Staffing: The California legislature’s budget committees approved adding more staff to the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) aftermarket parts division. The division is responsible for approving Executive Orders (EO) for aftermarket auto parts that have emissions impacts nationwide, which is critical for SEMA businesses wishing to sell emissions-related parts. SEMA has worked with State Senator Josh Newman and CARB staff to provide additional resources to CARB to expedite testing of the industry’s products as they move through the EO process.
Hawaii—New Racing Facility: The Hawaii Senate passed a resolution seeking construction of a new racetrack facility on the island of Oahu. The resolution requests that the Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism identify state-owned land suitable for a public/private partnership to design, build and operate a racing venue. The bill has been sent to the House Committee on Education and the Committee on Water and Land for further consideration.
Hawaii—Military Vehicles: The House and Senate approved slightly different versions of a bill to allow registration of former military vehicles as special-interest vehicles. The bill text is being reconciled in a House/Senate joint committee. A “former military vehicle” is at least 25 years old and is either a Pinzgauer, Kaiser Jeep M715, Humvee or Duck.
Idaho—Military Vehicles: Governor Butch Otter signed into law legislation that allows a vehicle built for the U.S. Armed Forces to be registered and operated on public highways in Idaho, even if such vehicle does not meet federal motor vehicle safety standards. Many military surplus vehicles were not designed to meet those standards and previously could not be registered.
Idaho—Emissions Inspection: The Idaho legislature adjourned for the year before passing a bill to exempt model-year ’07-and-newer vehicles from emissions testing. Vehicles five model years or newer are currently exempt from emissions testing. The Senate had passed the bill before it died in the House Transportation Committee.
Maryland—Off-Highway Vehicles: The Maryland House and Senate have passed a bill to establish an off-highway vehicle (OHV) trail fund to maintain and construct trails for OHVs on land that is owned or leased by the Department of Natural Resources. There is currently no specific fund related to OHV trails. The bill has been sent to Governor Hogan to be enacted into law.
Maryland—End of Legislative Session: The Maryland legislature failed to pass several bills before the deadline for consideration. They included a bill that would have required new-car dealers to provide purchasers with a written statement informing them that it is illegal for manufacturers or dealers to void a warranty or deny coverage because aftermarket parts were installed or because someone other than the dealer performed service. Another bill would have required the issuance of only a single license plate for all motor vehicles. The bill received an unfavorable report from the Judicial Proceedings Committee.
Minnesota—Military Vehicles: A bill has been introduced in the Minnesota House to allow owners the option of registering certain decommissioned military vehicles as regular motor vehicles. Under current law, such a vehicle may be registered only as a “collector military vehicle.” The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Transportation and Regional Policy.
New York—Historic Vehicles: Legislation has been reintroduced in the New York Senate to provide that historical-vehicle owners pay only a one-time registration fee of $100 upon initial registration. The bill passed the Senate and has been referred to the New York Assembly Transportation Committee for consideration.
Oklahoma—Military Vehicles: The Oklahoma House passed a bill that allows for the titling of high-mobility multipurpose vehicles (more commonly known as Humvees), although the vehicles would not be permitted on interstate highways. Such vehicles are not currently allowed to be titled. The bill has been sent to the Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration.
Rhode Island—Window Tinting: A bill has been introduced in the Rhode Island House of Representatives that would take the same approach on window tinting as in Massachusetts. Under the legislation, non-windshield window tinting would be required to meet a minimum standard of 25% light transmittance. The bill has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee.
Utah—Emissions Inspection: Governor Gary Hebert signed into a law a bill to extend the emissions inspection exemption to vehicles that are model-year ’67 or older as well as diesel vehicles ’97 or older. Under the previous law, all gasoline and diesel vehicles six model years or older were tested biennially, and all vehicles ’67 or older were tested annually.
Virginia—Military Vehicles: Governor Ralph Northam signed into law a bill that allows qualifying military vehicles to be registered and operated on public roadways as antiques. In Virginia, a “military surplus off-road motor vehicle” is defined as a high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicle (Humvee) that was manufactured by or under the direction of the U.S. Armed Forces and subsequently authorized for sale to civilians. Additionally, a favorable amendment was made to allow currently registered military vehicles to retain registration without the antique designation.
West Virginia—License Plates: Governor Jim Justice signed into law legislation that allows for personalized license plates on antique vehicles. The plates will be available for an annual fee of $40. Antique vehicles are vehicles that are more than 25 years old and owned solely as collector’s items.
Wisconsin—Military Vehicles: A bill has been introduced in Wisconsin that would allow half-track former military vehicles to be registered as special-interest vehicles. Under current law, half-tracks are not included in the list of former military vehicles allowed to register in the state. The bill is pending consideration by the Transportation and Veterans Affairs Committees.
Wisconsin—End of Legislative Session: Several bills introduced died when they failed to pass before the legislative deadline for action. They included legislation that would have provided the option of displaying a single plate if the vehicle was manufactured with just a front license-plate bracket or it was a collector’s
special-interest vehicle. A bill to eliminate the requirement of buyer identification cards to purchase vehicles from the salvage vehicle pool also died. Finally, legislation to permit half-track former military vehicles to be registered as special-interest vehicles died.
Virginia—Exhaust Noise: Governor Ralph Northam signed into law a bill to exclude antique motor vehicles (defined as motor vehicles 25 years old or older) from the requirement that they be equipped with the vehicle’s original exhaust system or an equivalent to prevent excessive levels of noise. Current law excludes only antique motor vehicles manufactured prior to 1950 from such requirements.
Tariffs: The U.S. Government is pursuing two separate actions to challenge potentially harmful international trading practices. On March 23, 2018, the government imposed 25% tariffs on steel and 10% tariffs on aluminum. The tariffs apply to processed raw materials (steel/aluminum plate, sheets, bars, etc.) but not finished products (e.g., wheels, exhausts, etc.). At issue is excess global metal production that has reduced prices and resulted in the closure of many U.S. factories. The tariffs are being applied globally, but U.S. allied countries may seek exemptions if they can demonstrate fair trade practices. To date, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, the European Union, Mexico and South Korea have received temporary or permanent exemptions. U.S.-based companies are eligible for one-year tariff exclusions if they can demonstrate that the foreign-produced material is not made in the United States in reasonably available quantity or satisfactory quality.
In a separate action, the U.S. government has threatened to impose additional tariffs on imports from China, and China has threatened retaliation. The tariffs could take effect as early as this summer if the two countries are unable to resolve trade disputes. The United States is pressing for more balanced trade and an end to practices that force companies to transfer their technology to China. The U.S. Trade Representative published a list of about 1,300 product categories covering nearly $50 billion worth of U.S. imports from China that could be subject to a proposed 25% tariff. The list includes some miscellaneous metal and rubber parts for auto equipment, chemicals, machinery, tools, measurement, and medical devices. The retaliatory tariffs threatened by China are targeted primarily at U.S. agricultural products.
SEMA has joined forces with other business groups, including the Alliance for Competitive Steel and Aluminum Trade, to warn President Trump and Congress that the tariffs have unintended potential to harm American companies, workers and consumers. There is marketplace confusion on how the tariffs are being imposed, and price hikes and hoarding has occurred in anticipation of tariffs. SEMA is closely monitoring this matter and will keep members informed as developments unfold.
Heavy-Duty Steel Wheels: The U.S. government is investigating whether extra-large steel wheels imported from China are being dumped or illegally subsidized. The subject wheels have 22.5- to 24.5-in. wheel diameters and are generally used on trucks, trailers, military and agricultural vehicles. This is the second time in recent years that the government found that the product was being sold below fair market value in the United States. In the previous case, the government ruled that U.S. industry was not being injured or threatened with injury at that time, a threshold for imposing tariffs.
Outdoor Recreation: The U.S. House Natural Resources Committee passed a bill intended to promote access to outdoor recreation opportunities, streamline the permitting process for guides and recreation enthusiasts, make federal agencies accountable for prioritizing outdoor recreation, and address the maintenance backlog on America’s public lands through increased volunteerism. The Recreation Not Red-Tape Act is supported by the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable, which is comprised of 25 top industry associations, including SEMA, representing off-roading, camping, fishing, boating, hiking, archery and other sports. The outdoor recreation industry generates about $887 billion per year in economic activity and provides an estimated 7.6 million direct jobs. The bill has been sent to the House floor. A companion Senate bill is awaiting consideration by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.