April 2011

Maryland Bill Amended to Protect Hobby for Future Generations

In a development that will benefit vehicle enthusiasts in Maryland, state legislators have agreed to amend legislation (H. B. 1302) that sought to create arbitrary cut-off years for vehicles to qualify for "historic," "street rod," and "custom" classifications. The amendments were the product of negotiations between the bill's sponsors, street rod hobbyists, historic car club representatives and SEMA.

As introduced the bill would have limited vehicles that could qualify as historic to those not newer than the 1980 model year and would have created a new class of custom vehicles to include those between the model years 1949 and 1981. The amended legislation deletes the 1980 and 1981 cut-off years for these classifications and defines a street rod as a 1948 or older model year vehicle.

SEMA Director of State Relations Steve McDonald commented, "This bill could have denied future generations from having 1980's-era and newer vehicles accorded these special designations, the privilege of these exemptions and the prestige and added value these titles confer. We are especially indebted to the Vintage Tin of Maryland Street Rod Club, the Mid-Atlantic Street Rod Association, the antique car club community and Delegates Guns and Rudolph for their work in amending the to protect the hobby."


Legislation that would create a voluntary repair and upgrade program in the state of Arizona passed the Environment and Appropriation Committees in both the House and Senate. The bills now await approval in the respective Rules Committees before heading to the floor for a vote.

The House bill was amended in committee to remove a publicly funded vehicle scrappage program. Under both bills, vehicles would be emission tested prior to qualifying for the program, functionally operational, titled in Arizona for a 2-year period and at least 12 years old. SEMA Director of State Relations Steve McDonald said, "We are pleased that Arizona legislators were convinced by the logic of repair and upgrade as an alternative to motor vehicle scrappage programs. Recent revelations of the deficiencies of scrappage programs in California helped to kill support for scrappage among key Arizona lawmakers."

SEMA is grateful for the efforts of the Arizona Automobile Hobbyists Council in fighting the scrappage proposal and disseminating information that provides factual accounts of the inefficiencies of scrappage programs.

Washington State Patrol Issues Vehicle Equipment Regulation

The issuance of the Washington State Patrol's (WSP) long-awaited final regulations to amend that state's vehicle equipment standards provided SEMA and enthusiasts with a number of significant victories and a few setbacks. In a negotiated rule-making process that began late last year, SEMA submitted legal and technical arguments urging the WSP to consider less restrictive alternatives for regulating a range of equipment including body lifts, bumpers and suspension systems.

A summary of the results:

  • The WSP agreed to include language that would allow bumpers to be attached in a manner "equal" to the original manufacturer's installation, but refused to allow the installation of a dropped second bumper to meet bumper height requirements. WSP agreed to replace a provision that mandated that bumpers meet SAE standards with one that provided for the use of SAE or equivalent standards.
  • The WSP agreed to exempt certain street rods and kit cars from fender requirements.
  • The WSP withdrew a provision that would have required a new frame certification program by certified automotive body repair shops.
  • The WSP withdrew a proposed ban on body lifts and agreed to language that will allow a 4-in. total lift (3 in. of lift plus 1-in. OEM spacer).
  •  The WSP agreed to use applicable SAE standards to govern the lighting color of aftermarket headlamps, auxiliary driving lamps and fog lamps, but has banned the use of neon lighting while a vehicle is in motion on a public roadway.
  • The WSP will prohibit the use of most aftermarket products obstructing the performance of required lighting devices and specifically outlaws headlight grille guards. Clear aftermarket headlamp covers are exempt from the prohibition.
  • The WSP will disallow the activation of a hydraulic system while a vehicle is being operated on public roadways.

Chris Kersting, SEMA VP of government affairs, commented, "While we are not content with every aspect of this regulation, we appreciate the willingness of WSP to accept many of the reasonable amendments offered by the industry.

State Leader's Sound-Off

Dear Editor:

I would like to reply to Jenny Gayheart's comments [on insurance rates] in the November 1, 1997 issue of The Driving Force.

Insurance rates (premiums) are based on the exposure we present by either our driving record or the car we drive. They are based, like it or not, on facts (statistics).

It has been said that guns do not kill, but the people who use them do. The same is true of cars. They do not kill; it is the people who drive them. It is also true that a .357 magnum bullet does more damage than a small .22. The same is true of cars even when they hit others of the same size and weight. An SUV is a "dolled up" truck and when it hits another car it is going to cause a lot of damage.

SUVs are based on pickup trucks. They have the same wheelbase and tread width, but they have all that body on top. The center of gravity is high and stability probably has suffered. If it does roll, it will suffer damage not normal to other cars and the owner will, and should, pay higher collision premiums.

Because you drive an SUV, you cannot assume that you were wise to do it or that it is safer than another car. What makes a car safe is the driver. Since we are all human, we make mistakes and unfortunately accidents occur. I know that even though I drive a van, the care with which I drive makes the car safe. A car that has not been involved in an accident is always a safe car.

Fred Weisbrod
AACA, Vintage Wheels chapter, Manatee City, FL

Newly Introduced State Legislation

The following state bills are not yet law; they have recently been introduced and are currently being considered for adoption. For more information, contact the SEMA Washington office.


COLORADO S.B. 182 would provide that any motor vehicle that passes the requirements of the clean screen program in the applicable portions of the basic emissions program shall be deemed to have complied with the basic auto emissions inspection requirement for the next inspection cycle.


MISSOURI H.B. 1460 would amend current law to allow a local government agency, under authorization from a law enforcement officer, to remove abandoned property that is derelict, junk, scrapped, disassembled, or in a condition harmful to public health.


KANSAS H.B. 2678 would allow for a model year license plate to be attached to the front of an antique vehicle depicting the year in which the vehicle was manufactured.

MISSOURI H.B. 1434 would allow for the use of "historic" vehicle license plates; would define an "historic" vehicle license plate as one over 25 years old.

NEW HAMPSHIRE S.B. 386 would allow the owner of an antique vehicle (50 years or older) to use a registration plate which was issued in the same year that the vehicle was manufactured.

NEW JERSEY A.B. 463 would allow owners of "historic" vehicles to display one special license plate on the rear of the vehicle.

VIRGINIA S.B. 233 would decrease the minimum age of an antique motor vehicle from 25 to 20 years old; would authorize special license plates for such vehicles. For more information, contact the SEMA Washington office.


CALIFORNIA S.B. 1725 would require the state's vehicle scrappage program to permit the sale of vehicles that of interest to collectors.


KANSAS S.B. 542 would require the owner of a vehicle that has been assembled, reconstructed, reconstituted or restored to request the Kansas Highway Patrol to check the vehicle in order to ensure that the vehicle contains no stolen parts.

MARYLAND S.B. 525 would exempt "historic" vehicles from having to obtain proof of inspection upon the sale or transfer of title of the vehicle.

MARYLAND H.B. 745 would exempt the transfer of a "historic" motor vehicle from the state's inspection program.


KENTUCKY H.B. 741 would allow sunscreening material to be applied to side windows as long as the light transmittance is at least 30% in the visible light range.

Can You Believe?

Here is another regulatory horror story, an example of unfair or illogical laws and regulations that place unnecessary burdens on businesses and individuals. If the following example makes you as angry as they make us, let your Representative know and offer to work with him/her to reduce the onslaught of regulations. Also, let the SEMA Washington office staff know if you have any similar horror stories to share; we'll keep track of all calls, as well as print them in upcoming editions.

Still Waiting After All These Years

A company in Newport, Tenn., is now idle. The firm had been gearing up to manufacture and sell sucralose--a sugar substitute. The company, a joint venture between Johnson & Johnson and British firm Tate & Lyle, invested in 10 years' worth of research and produced a 22,000-page report for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) citing 80 separate studies on the safety of the product. The FDA's Center for Food Safety and Nutrition spent 3 years reviewing the company's data, and the Center's director personally informed the company that the FDA was prepared to move forward with its approval. Based on this information, the firm went into full preparation, buying property and hiring 200 employees to await final approval and begin production. Five years later the firm is still waiting for that final approval and after a while, the workers were let go. The president of the company recently commented, "Either approve the product or turn this down." He feels that the wait is already unduly long and has been very costly. He noted that with a final answer from the FDA, even a negative one, they could at least begin to use the manufacturing facility for another product line.

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