The laws and regulations that govern SEMA members do affect the way automotive specialty-equipment products are made, distributed and marketed. The charge of the SEMA government affairs office is to stay on top of all relevant state and federal legislation and regulations and advocate for industry positions to ensure the best possible outcome for SEMA’s membership. The following are a few examples of critical legislative/regulatory issues addressed by the SEMA government affairs team over the past year.
SEMA seeks to enlist industry and enthusiasts in the endless battle to protect a car owner’s right to modify his or her vehicle. During the 2021 SEMA Show, you can boost your industry’s political horsepower by visiting Las Vegas Convention Center room N243 and supporting SEMA’s Political Action Committee (PAC) and the SEMA Action Network (SAN).
The SEMA-backed Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports Act of 2021 (RPM Act), H.R. 3281, was reintroduced in the House by U.S. Representatives Patrick McHenry (R-NC) and Raul Ruiz (D-CA) and had more than 90 co-sponsors at the time of this issue’s publication. The RPM Act would protect Americans’ right to convert street vehicles into dedicated race cars as well as the motorsports parts industry’s ability to produce and sell products that allow racers to compete.
The Illinois Senate passed SEMA-supported legislation to allow expanded-use antique vehicles to be driven without limitation for two additional months. Currently, expanded-use antique vehicles are defined as being more than 25 years old or “a bona fide replica” and are limited to traveling to and from auto shows, exhibitions, service stations and demonstrations during the colder months (November through March), but they can be driven without limitation during the warmer months (April through October). The bill proposes that the months without driving limitations to be expanded to March through November. The legislation awaits final approval or veto by Governor J.B. Pritzker.
Most people involved in the automotive industry have heard of the RPM Act, SEMA’s federal legislation to ensure that street vehicles can be modified into dedicated race cars. However, many people aren’t aware that SEMA works to influence regulatory agencies as well as the legislative process.
When the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in early 2020 and stay-at-home orders became the new normal, many Americans suddenly found themselves stuck at home with spare time on their hands. Often, that meant new hobbies or binging on classic TV shows. For gearheads across the country, it was a new opportunity to put in quality time on the project car that had been collecting dust in the garage. As a result, many manufacturers in the automotive specialty-equipment aftermarket experienced boom markets. Unfortunately, not all of the automotive trends to emerge from the pandemic were positive, especially when it came to state legislation.
FTC Report on Right to Repair: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a report to Congress that is highly critical of anti-competitive repair restrictions employed by manufacturers that limit consumer choice. The report is based on industry research gathered at an FTC workshop in 2019 and covers a wide range of products, including automobiles. The FTC noted little evidence to support manufacturers’ justifications for repair restrictions (e.g., safety, cybersecurity, liability and reputational harm, quality of service).
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a report to Congress in May that is highly critical of anti-competitive repair restrictions employed by manufacturers that limit consumer choice.
“Save Our Race Cars” is the banner uniting the automotive masses as legislative advocates. The latest phase of the saga to ensure that the Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports (RPM) Act becomes law has shattered previous efforts with viral strength. Many will recall first learning of the unreasonable interpretation of the Clean Air Act by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2016, which has sent a chill through the automotive community ever since. The race to pass the RPM Act has now taken on a groundbreaking pace.
For decades, off-roaders have been able to enjoy riding their vehicles on a California beach and up and down massive sand dunes. That thrill may soon vanish. In March, the California Coastal Commission voted unanimously to abolish off-highway vehicle (OHV) access to California’s Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area (SVRA) within three years. In response, SEMA, along with three other OHV-related organizations, challenged the commission in court.