LEGISLATIVE AND TECHNICAL AFFAIRS
By Stuart Gosswein
Collector Car Appreciation Day Resolution: At the request of SEMA and the SEMA Action Network, a resolution (H. Res. 108) was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives to recognize July 12, 2019, as Collector Car Appreciation Day. H. Res. 108 is sponsored by Congressional Automotive Performance and Motorsports Caucus House Co-Chairs Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL) and Rep. Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (D-GA). The date marks the 10th commemoration in what has become an annual event to celebrate and raise awareness of the vital role automotive restoration and collection plays in American society. States, local governments and Canadian provinces have adopted similar commemorative declarations. For more information, visit www.semasan.com.
Tariffs—Automobiles and Auto Parts: The U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) sent to President Trump the results of its investigation on whether imported automobiles and auto parts pose a threat to U.S. national security. The report was not made public, and President Trump has until mid-May to decide whether to impose tariffs. The administration’s options include imposing global tariffs of as much as 25% or limiting the tariffs to certain countries and products. The DOC investigation applied to all types of cars and parts, including new cars, classic cars, OEM parts and specialty auto parts. Last year, eight major trade associations formed the Driving American Jobs Coalition to oppose potential tariffs. The group includes SEMA and represents the broad scope of the auto industry, from automakers and dealers to parts manufacturers, distributors, retailers and service providers. The coalition has warned that auto tariffs are a tax on American workers and consumers and urged the Trump administration to find that the auto industry is not a national security threat.
Tariffs—China: As of press time, U.S. and Chinese officials were seeking to reach agreement on trade talks that would result in lowering the U.S./China trade deficit, eliminating forced technology transfers, and deterring theft of intellectual property. Last summer, the U.S. government imposed 25% tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese imports and 10% tariffs on another $200 billion worth of goods last fall. If negotiations fail, the 10% tariffs will rise to 25% and China will expand retaliatory actions.
Tariffs—Legislation: SEMA-supported legislation has been introduced to provide the U.S. Congress with the ability to approve or disapprove tariffs imposed by the president, citing national security concerns. Presidential application of these types of tariffs has been applied sparingly in the past. However, the current administration has been more aggressive, imposing 25% tariffs on foreign steel, 10% tariffs on imported aluminum, and threatening tariffs on auto imports. The legislation would clarify that the term “national security” applies to military equipment, energy resources and critical infrastructure needs. Any potential tariffs to be imposed by the president would be submitted to Congress, which would then have 60 days to pass an approval resolution supporting the proposed action.
IRS Business Owner Tax Break: The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued a regulation to provide guidance for pass-through business owners when taking a 20% deduction under Section 199a of the 2017 tax overhaul law. The tax law change benefits small-business owners who pay taxes on their personal tax returns, including partnerships, limited liability companies and S corporations. Any taxpayers who earn less than $157,500, or $315,000 for a married couple, can deduct 20% of the income they receive via pass-through businesses from their overall taxable income. Taxpayers earning above those amounts must meet certain tests to take the full deduction, such as the amount of W-2 employee wages paid in
Public Lands Bill: The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives passed a massive public lands bill that contains many separate components combined into a single measure. The bill includes elements strongly supported by SEMA, such as the California Desert Protection and Recreation Act co-authored by Rep. Paul Cook (R-CA) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) to permanently designate six existing OHV areas. Those areas include Johnson Valley (expanded by 11,000 acres), Spangler Hills, El Mirage, Rasor, Dumont Dunes and Stoddard Valley. The bill also includes a provision to permanently designate federal lands within Emery County, Utah. While the provision protects most existing OHV routes within the San Raphael Swell, several trails were lost. The bill has been sent to the president for his consideration.
E15 Gasoline Warning Label: SEMA-supported legislation has been reintroduced in the U.S. House of Representatives to expand the current warning label required on gas pumps dispensing E15 (gasoline that is 15% ethanol). The new label would include the words “WARNING” and “Check your owner’s manual”; be 5x7 in. or larger; and include pictograms depicting a boat, a lawnmower, a chainsaw, a motorcycle and a snowmobile. The current label is about 31/2x3 in. and does not include the words “warning,” “owner’s manual,” or pictograms. Ethanol, especially in higher concentrations, such as E15, can cause metal corrosion and dissolve certain plastics and rubbers in automobiles that were not constructed with ethanol-resistant materials. In 2011, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency made it illegal to use E15 fuel in motor vehicles made before 2001, along with motorcycles, boats and gasoline-powered equipment. There has been no action to date on the legislation.
Route 66 Centennial: The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill to create a commission to recommend ways to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Route 66, which was completed in 1926 as the first all-paved U.S. highway. The “Route 66 Centennial Commission Act” creates a 19-person board, including governors of states through which the highway passed from Illinois to California. The commission will recommend ways to celebrate the anniversary, such as through writings, films and documentaries, education programs, artistic works and commemorative memorabilia.
Black Boxes: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has withdrawn a proposed rule to require event data recorders (EDRs) in all new cars and trucks, since they are already being voluntarily installed by automakers in nearly all light-duty vehicles. NHTSA had proposed the rule in 2012 when many vehicles did not have so-called black boxes. NHTSA already has standard of performance requirements for EDRs: 49 CFR Part 563. Data collected identifies pre-crash vehicle speed and whether brakes were applied and airbags were deployed, among other facts.
OSHA Workplace Injury Tracking: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will no longer require companies with 250 or more employees to electronically submit OSHA Forms 300 and 301, which track employee injuries and illnesses at their establishments. The filing requirement had taken effect on July 1, 2018. Companies are still required to record and maintain the information for five years. At the end of each year, employers are required to complete and file OSHA Form 300A (Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses) and post the form in a visible location in
West Virginia—Military Vehicles: SEMA-model legislation was introduced in the West Virginia Senate to allow for the registration of military surplus vehicles. The bill defines a military surplus vehicle as a wheeled, multipurpose or tactical vehicle, including a trailer, that was manufactured for military use by or under the direction of the U.S. Armed Forces or Armed Forces of any other country and was subsequently authorized for sale to civilians. The bill awaits consideration in the House Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security Committee.
California—Exhaust Noise: California Assembly members Jim Frazier and Tim Grayson introduced SEMA-supported legislation (A.B. 390) to repeal a 2018 law (A.B. 1824) that amended how California law-enforcement officials issue citations for exhaust noise violations. Both assemblymen are members of the SEMA-supported State Automotive Enthusiast Leadership Caucus and have previously attended the SEMA Show, and Assemblyman Frazier is the chair of the Transportation Committee. In California, exhaust systems installed on motor vehicles with a manufacturer’s gross vehicle weight rating of less than 6,000 lbs., other than motorcycles, may not exceed a sound level of 95 decibels when tested under Society of Automotive Engineers test procedure J1492 (formerly J1169). This would be unchanged by A.B. 390, which is currently awaiting consideration by the Assembly Transportation Committee.
California—Smog Exemption: Legislation was introduced in the California Assembly to exempt motor vehicles prior to the ’83 model year from the state’s emissions inspection requirement. Current law requires the biennial testing of all ’76-and-newer model-year vehicles. The bill awaits consideration by the Assembly Transportation Committee.
Connecticut—Single License Plate: Legislation was introduced in the Connecticut House of Representatives to exempt vehicles without a designated place and mounting hardware from having to display a front license plate. Under current law, vehicles must display both front and rear license plates. The bill awaits consideration by the Joint Committee on Transportation.
Illinois—Single License Plate: Legislation was introduced in the Illinois House of Representatives to require the issuance of only a single, rear-mounted license plate for all motor vehicles. A similar measure failed to pass during the 2018 legislative session. Under current law, vehicles must display both front and rear license plates. The bill awaits consideration by the House Transportation: Vehicle and Safety Committee.
Iowa—Single License Plate: Legislation was introduced in the Iowa Senate to require the issuance of only a single, rear-mounted license plate for all motor vehicles. Current law allows single license plates on only model-year ’48-or-older vehicles. The bill is currently awaiting consideration by the Senate Transportation Committee.
Missouri—Historic Vehicles: Legislation has been introduced in the Missouri Senate that would allow historic vehicles to be issued license plates without an annual mileage restriction. Current law limits historic vehicle owners to 1,000 mi. of driving for personal use per year. The bill currently awaits consideration in the Senate Transportation, Infrastructure, and Public Safety Committee.
New York—Street Rods & Customs: SEMA-model legislation has been reintroduced in the New York Assembly to create a vehicle titling and registration classification for street rods and custom vehicles. The legislation defines a street rod as an altered vehicle manufactured before ’49 and a custom vehicle as an altered vehicle at least 25 years old and manufactured after ’48. Under the bill, kit cars and replica vehicles will be assigned certificates of title bearing the same model-year designations as the production vehicles they most closely resemble. The bill currently awaits consideration in the Assembly Transportation Committee.
Oklahoma—Military Vehicles: Legislation was introduced in the Oklahoma Senate to allow for the titling of high-mobility multipurpose vehicles (HUMVEE or HMMWV). If passed, the legislation would prohibit such vehicles from traveling on interstate highways. Under current Oklahoma law, HUMVEEs cannot be titled in the state. A similar proposal failed to pass during the 2018 legislative session. The bill currently awaits consideration in the Senate Committee
Tennessee—Antique Vehicles: Legislation was introduced in the Tennessee Senate to allow antique vehicles to be driven up to 5,000 mi. per year for general transportation. Currently, antique vehicles may be driven to and from club activities, exhibits, tours and parades; for the purpose of testing operation and obtaining repairs; and for general transportation only on Saturday and Sunday. The legislation is currently awaiting consideration in the Senate Transportation and Safety Committee.
Utah—Single License Plate: Legislation was introduced in the Utah House of Representatives to require the issuance of only a single, rear-mounted license plate for all motor vehicles. Under current law, vehicles must display two license plates. The bill is currently awaiting consideration in the House Transportation Committee.
Washington—Military Vehicles: Companion legislation was introduced in the Washington Senate and House of Representatives to allow for the registration of military surplus vehicles. The bills define a military surplus vehicle as a vehicle that is not operated using continuous tracks, was originally manufactured and sold directly to the Armed Forces of the United States, and is no longer owned by the U.S. Armed Forces. The legislation awaits consideration in the Senate and House Transportation Committees.
West Virginia—Property Tax: Legislation was introduced in the West Virginia Senate to exempt vehicles 25 years old and older from personal property taxes. The bill is currently awaiting consideration in the Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.