LEGISLATIVE AND TECHNICAL AFFAIRS
By Stuart Gosswein
California—Off Highway Vehicles: The California Coastal Commission voted to make no changes to a permit that allows off-highway vehicle (OHV) use at the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Area. The commission voted against a prohibition on night riding, additional fencing to restrict OHV use, eliminating unlimited OHV use on holidays, and increased enforcement efforts focused on vehicle use and speed limit. The commission also voted down a proposal to provide year-round protection to a 300-acre endangered species area (which is currently protected on a seasonal basis) and future closures for the purpose of dust control. Oceano Dunes encompasses nearly 3,600 acres along the Pacific Ocean, of which OHV use is now limited to 1,500 acres or less. It became a state OHV park in the ’80s and is the only such park on California’s coast.
Minimum Wage: The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill to gradually increase the federal minimum hourly wage from $7.25 to $15 by 2024. The legislation would increase the wage in seven yearly steps and then index future increases to median wage growth. The federal wage has not been hiked since 2007, although 29 states and Washington, D.C., have set higher minimum wages. While the U.S. Senate is not expected to consider the bill, the issue will be a topic of debate in the upcoming presidential campaign.
Apprenticeships: The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has issued a proposed rule to encourage companies, trade associations, colleges, unions and other entities to establish federally recognized apprenticeship programs. The apprenticeships would be paid positions that provide trainees with on-the-job training and classroom education. The initiative is intended to expand the pool of available workers, given the fact that the U.S. currently has many more job openings than skilled workers. Federal funds would be available to help partner educational institutions with companies for a market-based approach that operates within DOL standards for training, structure and curricula.
Repair and Warranty Restrictions: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) held a one-day workshop to examine ways in which manufacturers may limit third-party automotive replacement and repairs, including limitations on consumer rights under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. Issues covered included the current prevalence of repair restrictions, reasons provided by manufacturers for such restrictions, and whether consumers are aware of their right to install aftermarket products. The workshop also explored the technological and financial impact repair restrictions have on small businesses and consumers. The workshop was a fact-finding effort as the FTC seeks to better understand challenges faced in enforcing the law.
Outdoor Recreation: The U.S. House Natural Resources Committee passed SEMA-supported legislation help to address a $16 billion maintenance backlog on America’s public lands. The Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act would create a public-lands fund spending up to $1.3 billion a year between 2020 and 2024. Deferred maintenance projects include rebuilding roadways, bridges, buildings, campgrounds, trails and other vital infrastructure that support outdoor recreation.
Hawaii—Military Vehicles: Hawaii Governor David Ige vetoed legislation that would have allowed for the registration and titling of former military vehicles. In announcing his intent to veto the legislation, Governor Ige explained that he believed the bill would result in vehicles that didn’t conform to emissions standards or federal motor safety standards on Hawaii roadways.
New Brunswick—License Plates: New Brunswick Public Safety Minister Carl Urquhart announced that motorists in the province will no longer be required to display a front license plate on passenger vehicles and light trucks weighing less than 4,500 kg. Antique vehicles are unaffected by the change and will continue to be issued a single, rear-mounted license plate.
Pennsylvania—Emissions: A package of bills to reform Pennsylvania’s Vehicle Emissions Inspection and Maintenance (I/M) Program passed the Senate and currently await consideration in the House Transportation Committee. These bills would replace the annual emissions-testing requirement with a biennial requirement, exempt new vehicles from the I/M program for eight years after the manufacture date, exempt certain counties from testing requirements, and change testing criteria for model-year ’94–’95 vehicles in the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia regions.
Rhode Island—License Plates: Legislation in Rhode Island to allow vehicles with year-of-manufacture tags to display a single license plate on the rear of the vehicle passed the legislature and awaits consideration by Governor Gina Raimondo.