Maintenance Backlog on Federal Lands: The U.S. Senate passed the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA)—a SEMA-supported bill that is critically important to revitalizing America’s outdoor recreation industry. The GAOA would dedicate $9.5 billion over the next five years to addressing the maintenance backlog on federally owned lands by creating a national parks and public land legacy restoration fund. The bill would also appropriate $900 million annually to the Land and Water Conservation Fund to help fund the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service and several other federal agencies as they rebuild and improve trails, roads, docks, campgrounds and more.
The Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports (RPM) Act 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. As Congress prepares to come back into session in September, the RPM Act enters a critical period. The legislation has strong bipartisan support, including 60 co-sponsors for the House bill (H.R. 5434) and 29 co-sponsors for the Senate bill (S. 2602), but lawmakers in Congress need to hear from SEMA members about why the bill is important to motorsports parts businesses in order to enact the bill into law in 2020.
The industry’s reaction in 2015 to enactment of the replica car law could be described in two words: giddy enthusiasm. Companies would soon be able to produce and sell new turnkey vehicles that resembled classic vehicles produced at least 25 years ago. Passage of the law had taken just four years following the bill’s introduction—a relatively short period on Capitol Hill—but who knew that it would take five years of lobbying and a lawsuit before companies could begin selling replica cars?
“Make Bonneville Great Again” is no longer just a cheeky slogan that land-speed racers have printed on hats. SEMA is proud to announce that a joint state/federal program to save the Bonneville Salt Flats has been created to dramatically increase the amount of salt pumped onto those hallowed grounds.
When it comes to the collector-vehicle market, military vehicles are not what first spring to mind. The notion of rides originally mass produced to aid the armed forces becoming collector’s items may seem rather strange. However, countless examples were manufactured by popular automakers such as the Big Three, whose iconic offerings are coveted to this day by brand loyalists. While getting one’s hands on one of those prized vehicles may be tough, titling and registering them for street use is often tougher.
Protecting the automotive hobby’s faithful from unreasonable restrictions is always good for business. Nationwide, states are constantly wrenching with America’s car laws. Some states seek to promote the growth of the collector-car community, while others hope to stop it in its tracks.
The presidential election is just a few months away and the balance of power in Congress and state capitols is up for grabs. Now is the time for the specialty automotive aftermarket to mobilize and make our voices heard. Although SEMA’s next Washington Rally will be in May 2021, it is still possible to meet your elected officials in their local districts this year. SEMA government affairs staff can help you forge a relationship with the men and women who make decisions that impact the industry by inviting an elected official to tour your business or arranging a community meeting with your lawmaker.
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.
RPM Act: Congressional support for the Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports (RPM) Act, H.R. 5434/S. 2602, continues to grow. SEMA is working with lawmakers to pass the bill in 2020. There were 29 co-sponsors in the Senate and 58 co-sponsors in the House at press time for this issue of SEMA News. The bipartisan RPM Act protects the right to convert an automobile into a race car used exclusively at the track and to sell parts used to make the conversion and race the vehicle. SEMA asks its members to contact their lawmakers and urge their support. Visit www.sema.org/rpm.
Replica Cars: SEMA and many other companies and organizations submitted comments on a proposed rule issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to implement the Low Volume Vehicle Manufacturers Act. The law allows small automakers to sell up to 325 turnkey replica vehicles that appear to have been produced at least 25 years ago. The 2015 law adopts the kit-car model, whereby the cars are regulated as equipment rather than current model-year vehicles. SEMA sued NHTSA in October 2019 for failure to issue a rulemaking within one year as required under the law. The agency responded to a court deadline by issuing the proposed rule. NHTSA is now reviewing public comments. Although there is no deadline, SEMA is urging NHTSA to issue a final rule by the summer of 2020 so that companies can begin producing and selling replica vehicles.