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.
The Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports Act (RPM Act) has been reintroduced in the 117th U.S. Congress. The bipartisan legislation will clarify that it is legal to make emissions-related changes to convert a street vehicle into a dedicated race car. It will also confirm that it is legal to produce, market and install racing equipment. The bill (H.R. 3281) is sponsored by Representatives Raul Ruiz (D-CA) and Patrick McHenry (R-NC). Since it was first introduced in 2016, the legislation has been subject to committee hearings and inclusion in a 2020 energy bill passed by the House but never taken up by the Senate. Congress must pass the RPM Act to counter U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) overreach and provide certainty to racers and motorsports parts businesses. For more information, visit www.sema.org/rpmact.
SEMA filed an amicus brief in a lawsuit between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Gear Box Z. Inc., arguing against the EPA’s contention that the Clean Air Act (CAA) does not allow a motor vehicle to be converted into a racing vehicle used solely for competition.
The Georgia House of Representatives introduced SEMA-supported legislation that would allow the use, sale, alteration or installation of car mufflers that meet a 95-decibel noise limit. Under the current law, no person can sell, alter or install a muffler that “causes excessive or unusual noise.” The bill currently awaits consideration in the House Motor Vehicles Committee.
California appears to be doing everything in its power to burnish its reputation as the least business-friendly state in the union. Exhibit A is California’s Proposition 65 (Prop. 65), a California law that gives consumers and attorneys the ability to sue businesses that do not include warning labels on products containing certain chemicals. Prop. 65 has been a boondoggle for plaintiffs’ lawyers, a burden on businesses nationwide that manufacture, distribute or sell products that go to California, and is of little use to California consumers—its intended beneficiary. Now, California is proposing regulations that would make Prop. 65 even more onerous on SEMA-member companies. Enough is enough!
Replica Cars: NHTSA completed a regulation allowing low-volume motor vehicle manufacturers to begin selling replica cars that resemble vehicles produced at least 25 years ago—from ’30s roadsters to ’60s musclecars and more. SEMA worked with Congress to enact the 2015 law, which permits each company to produce up to 325 replicas a year for the U.S. market. The law removed regulatory barriers that previously prevented construction. While enthusiasts will now have a chance to purchase a turnkey replica car, they will still have the option to build a car from a kit. The program does not take effect until the NHTSA rule has been officially published in the Federal Register, which was delayed due to the presidential transition but is expected to occur within weeks as of this writing.
Commemorating Route 66: The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives approved a SEMA-supported bill to create a commission to recommend ways to commemorate Route 66’s 100th anniversary. The first all-paved U.S. highway was completed in 1926. The 15-person commission will include representatives from the states through which the highway ran: Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. The commission may recommend the production of various written materials, films and documentaries, education programs, artistic works, commemorative memorabilia and celebrations to commemorate Route 66’s storied history. The bill was signed into law on December 23, 2020.
China Tariffs: Tariffs were imposed on most imported goods from China starting in July 2018. The tariffs were divided into four separate lists, with auto parts generally placed on List 3. The tariffs were first intended as leverage during U.S.–China trade talks. While the two nations reached a Phase One agreement in January 2020 on increasing intellectual property protection, eliminating forced technology transfer and other issues, the tariffs remain to ensure compliance.
The U.S. Treasury issued a new loan forgiveness application form for Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loans of $50,000 or less, intending to simplify the loan review process for smaller loan amounts. While the new form was reduced from five to two pages, it still requires the borrower to submit significant documentation (bank statements, tax forms, payment receipts, employee benefit statements, etc.). While welcoming the revised form, SEMA has joined a coalition of companies and organizations seeking a more streamlined process so that small-business owners can invest in jobs and supporting their local economies rather than spending time and resources on paperwork. The PPP has provided 5.2 million loans worth $525 billion to American small businesses, according to the U.S. Treasury.
Although Detroit is known for being the capital of the U.S. automotive industry and the home of the Big Three automakers, the region’s economy is also driven by everything automotive, from tier-one suppliers to specialty aftermarket businesses. That nuance is not lost on U.S. Representative Haley Stevens (D-MI), who understands as well as any member of Congress the interconnected nature of the automakers and the aftermarket.