LEGISLATIVE AND TECHNICAL AFFAIRS
By Stuart Gosswein
Wisconsin—Collector and Hobbyist Vehicles: SEMA-opposed legislation in Wisconsin to restrict eligibility and raise fees for collector and hobbyist vehicle registrations failed to pass the Assembly prior to a required legislative deadline. Currently, those vehicles must be more than 20 years old, and owners are required to pay twice the normal registration fee. If passed, the bill would have further limited each designation to vehicles 30 years old and older, expanded seasonal use restrictions, and increased the registration fees to three times the normal rate. In Wisconsin, a collector vehicle is defined as being at least 20 years old, preserved because of historical significance, and having had no body alterations. Vehicles eligible for hobbyist plates include street modifieds, replica vehicles, reconstructed vehicles and homemade vehicles.
COVID-19 Webpage: SEMA continues to update the www.sema.org/coronavirus webpage daily to provide members with valuable resources for addressing COVID-19. The information gathered is comprehensive and ranges from industry best practices for protecting employee health to tracking the states as they allow nonessential businesses to reopen. Members are encouraged to bookmark the page and visit often.
Small-Business Loans: This spring, the U.S. Congress increased the amount of money available to be lent to small businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) programs. Both programs are funded through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), with PPP loans being processed by a bank and EIDL loans being issued directly by the SBA. The PPP was scheduled to end on June 30, 2020, unless funds were depleted sooner or Congress extended the program. The EIDL program ends on December 31, 2020 (or when funds are depleted). Of primary concern is whether the federal government will sufficiently fund the programs to cover the needs of millions of small businesses across the United States. A PPP loan equals up to 250% of a company’s monthly payroll (capped at $10 million), which can be used to cover payroll, mortgage, rent and other specified expenses. It is a two-year loan at a 1% interest rate with no payment due for six months, and the SBA will forgive that portion of the loan used to cover payroll, rent and utilities for the first eight weeks of the loan. The EIDL is a loan of up to $2 million at a 3.75% interest rate to be used to pay workers, rent and other bills. The first $10,000 of the loan is a grant that does not need to be repaid.
Tariffs: The Americans for Free Trade Coalition, of which SEMA is a member, asked that companies be provided comprehensive tariff relief during COVID-19. The coalition called on President Trump to temporarily suspend tariff collections, including those imposed on metals and Chinese products. The request for suspended tariffs had widespread bipartisan support on Capitol Hill but was rejected by the administration. However, President Trump issued an executive order that allowed companies to defer duty payments for 45 days in March and April but only on a very limited category of products. The coalition asked the Trump Administration to apply the order to all imports, including tariffs on steel, aluminum and Chinese products, and defer collections through June so that companies can use the money to pay other expenses during COVID-19. There has been no decision on the request by the administration to date.
RPM Act: SEMA is working with members of Congress on both sides of the aisle to pass the Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports (RPM) Act in 2020. The legislation clarifies that the Clean Air Act allows motor vehicles to be converted into dedicated race cars and that it is legal to produce, sell and install race parts for those vehicles. The RPM Act has been subject to previous Congressional hearings and is well-positioned for consideration in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate. The House bill (H.R. 5434) currently has 58 co-sponsors, and the Senate bill (S. 2602) has 29 co-sponsors. To contact your lawmakers and request their support, visit www.sema.org/rpm.
Virginia—Motorsports: SEMA-supported legislation in Virginia to create a motor vehicle racing heritage trail in order to promote tourism and economic development became law after the deadline for Governor Ralph Northam’s signature or veto passed. The law convenes a group of stakeholders, including owners of historic NASCAR and other racing tracks, to design and implement the trail.
West Virginia—Military Vehicles: West Virginia Governor Jim Justice signed into law a SEMA-supported bill to allow antique military vehicles to display an alternate registration insignia as opposed to a traditional license plate. Antique vehicle plates are available for vehicles that are more than 25 years old and owned solely as collector’s items.