August 2001

California Abandons Plan to Destroy Pre-1970 Cars
 
Under pressure from California SEMA Action Network members, environmental groups and SEMA, legislation that threatened to allow carmakers to crush pre-1970 vehicles in exchange for credits toward their obligations under the state’s Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) program was discarded by California legislators.
 
Under the abandoned bill, owners who surrendered their vehicles for destruction would have received a voucher of at least $2,500 for purchasinga newer vehicle. The program was intended for implementation in low-income communities located in areas designated as having severe air pollution.
 
“SEMA feels strongly that the scrappage provision represented an ill-conceived and failed approach to cleaning the air and would have actually hurt more low-income drivers than it would have helped,” said SEMA Director of Government Affairs Steve McDonald. “Essentially, the bill ignored the fact that lower income car owners often cannot afford topurchase new or even newer used vehicles with the money provided by theprogram.”
 
SEMA has long maintained that scrappage programs rely on the flawed premise that crushing older cars will result in increased emissions reductions. The fact is, this is rarely the case. In particular, the bill provided no means to verify emissions reductions from vehicles destroyed and failed to recognize that pre-1970 cars are scarce or are rarely driven in the first place. The legislation also made no provision for rescuing valuable partsand parts-cars for repair and restoration projects.
 
SEMA Action Network Director Brian Caudill noted, “We would like to thank the many California enthusiasts who made the effort to contact their legislators.” Letters to legislators from SEMA Network Clubs, such as the IVEver Low Club, Riviera Owners Club, Buick GS Owners Club, Austin-Healey Club of Northern California, Pomona Valley Corvette Association, Salinas Valley Classic Chevy Club, and the Antique Automobile Club of America, FoothillsRegion, may have made the difference between saving and crushing pre-1970 vehicles.
 
 
 
Fighting for Your Rights: Mississippi State Representative Rotenberry
 
SEMA Action Network members may recall that Mississippi legislation (S.B. 2737) seeking to ban aftermarket auxiliary lights mounted on or visible from the rear of a vehicle camedangerously close to becoming law this year. However, Representative Clinton “Clint” Rotenberry (R), a member of the Mississippi House Transportation Committee, came to our aid, amending the bill to permit aftermarket, as well as factory-installed, lights.
 
Driving Force spoke with Rep. Rotenberry to learn more about his legislative career and his efforts to limit unnecessary legislation. Rotenberry has served as a State Representative for almost 10 years with no plans to retire. When asked to sum up his role as a legislator his response was instantaneous: “To fight for the rights of individuals, including the right to modify your vehicle.”
 
Rotenberry continued, “To many folks, a car is an individual statement. As a member of the Transportation Committee, my number one concern is to protect both individuals and small businesses from exclusionary legislation.The legislation we worked on with SEMA is a great example. We process about 3,500 bills per session in Mississippi. S.B. 2737 was dropped in my lap along with 30 to 40 other bills that the Transportation Committee had a week to hear. None of us recognized that it would prohibit individuals from installing certain aftermarket lamps and unfairly cause economic damage tothe many small businesses that sell those products. Were it not for SEMA andthe SEMA Action Network acting quickly to make me and the other Committeemembers aware of the effects of the bill, it probably would have passed right through.”
 
SEMA Director of Government and Technical Affairs Steve McDonald commented, “Representative Rotenberry deserves much of the credit for the success we had amending S.B. 2737. His willingness to listen to our concerns and totake action to amend the bill is appreciated by Mississippi hobbyists and 
SEMA members. Representative Rotenberry’s common sense approach to law-making makes him a valuable and respected ally. We look forward to a continued partnership with him.”
 
When asked how auto hobbyists could guarantee legislators hear theirvoices, Rotenberry noted, “I think the most important thing you can do iscontact us and express your feelings. I don’t decide how I’m going to vote on most issues until it’s time to do so. When someone comes to me and says, ‘Representative Rotenberry, I think you should vote this way on a certain issue and here’s why…,’ that one conversation could very well determine which way I’ll vote. As a legislator, my job is to be a professionallistener. Anything you can do to make me more aware about an issue is as valuable to me as it is to you.”
 
On behalf of the hobby, Driving Force thanks Representative Rotenberry for his efforts and for taking the time to speak with us. If you’d like tocontact the Representative, he can be reached by phone at 601/359-2432, or e-mail Rotenberry@mail.house.state.ms.us. 
 
 
 
Massachusetts Bill Banning the Sale/Installation of Custom Exhaust Systems
 
Massachusetts legislation (H.B. 3593) that would prohibit the sale orinstallation of “an exhaust system which has been modified in a manner which will amplify or increase the noise emitted by the exhaust” has been set aside for study. SEMA is hopeful that after further review this bill will bewithdrawn.
 
H.B. 3593 was misguidedly introduced in an effort to stem car-related gang activity. However, SEMA is concerned that in an understandable effort to combat crime, the rights of law-abiding hobbyists are unfairly restricted. H.B. 3593 would prevent hobbyists from installing custom exhaust systems designed to increase performance and efficiency without increasingemissions. The bill would also make it difficult for hobbyists to replacefactory exhaust systems with more durable and stylish models. Finally, H.B.3593 provides law enforcement no clear standard to enforce, allowing them tomake purely subjective judgments about whether a custom exhaust system islegal or not.
 
Massachusetts SEMA Action Network members have been very active in opposing this bill. In particular, SEMA is proud to recognize the efforts of the Massachusetts Association of Automobile Clubs, Bearing Burners, Spindles Auto Club of Weymouth, Dominators Car Club, Massachusetts Cruisers Club, and the Bay State Classic Chevy Club. Without their efforts, aftermarket and custom exhausts might have been completely banned from Massachusetts’ roads by now.
 
 
 
California Exhaust Noise Bill Passes
 
In hopeful news for California hobbyists, the California Legislature passed 
SEMA-sponsored legislation (S.B. 1081) that should compel law enforcement to tie exhaust system noise citations to a 95-decibel limit. The bill wasinitiated to address the problem of motorists — particularly those in theimport-performance scene — who drive vehicles legally equipped with modifiedexhaust systems from being unfairly cited for exceeding noise limits.
 
SEMA initially desired a process requiring law enforcement authorities to “objectively demonstrate” (i.e. perform a test) that a custom or modified exhaust system did not comply with the noise level test standard beforeissuing a citation. However, politics and the budget crunch brought on bythe California energy crisis precluded the original bill from beingconsidered.
 
Currently, the law and this bill may still allow officers to cite based ona subjective determination that the exhaust system exceeds the 95-decibellimit. This provision remains a bone of contention and SEMA continues towork with the California Highway Patrol and others to investigate possiblesolutions. Under the bill, a court may dismiss a citation if it is shownthat the exhaust system complies with the 95-decibel limit and the owner hadreasonable grounds to believe that the system was in good working order. The bill also provides that clear aftermarket modified exhaust systems are legalif they comply with the standard.
 
SEMA Director of Government Affairs Steve McDonald commented, “This bill is 
an essential first step to helping protect motorists from receivingerroneous exhaust noise citations simply because their car sports a customexhaust. Often, these citations are written with the absence of an actualcode violation and without regard to the practical intent of the law. Right now, the enforcement policy used by California authorities considers nearly all exhaust system modifications illegal, even when noise levels are not excessive or unusual. This policy leaves hobbyists, manufacturers, dealersand their customers without recourse.”
 
 
 
Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) May Rise
 
The average fuel economy that automakers must maintain for their respective 
vehicle fleets has, for the past several years, been frozen at 20.7 mpg for light trucks and SUVs and 27.5 for passenger cars. Now, responding to the nation’s energy crisis, lawmakers are taking a second look at raising CAFEstandards in an effort to save energy. SEMA has long argued that any CAFEhike will force automakers to limit consumer vehicle choice, particularly inthe light truck/SUV and performance/luxury car markets, by eithereliminating or curtailing production of popular models in order to meet fuel economy targets.
 
Think CAFE doesn’t affect the general public? Think again. Automotive News recently reported a conversation between GM and Vice President Cheney in which GM noted that a mere 3 mpg increase in the CAFE truck standard would force them to stop building most of their full-size trucks — more than 1 million vehicles a year. Driving Force urges you to contact your U.S. Representative and Senators to oppose raising CAFE standards.
 
 
 
NHTSA Takes Another Look at Rollover Ratings
 
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is developing a new, “dynamic” vehicle rollover rating system that will theoretically be based upon actual driving and maneuverability testing. Preparation of this rating system was mandated by the TREAD Act, vehicle safety legislation that passed Congress in the wake of the Ford-Firestone controversy last year.
 
NHTSA’s rollover testing results will be made public through a consumer information program and will likely replace the “static” mathematical calculation (dividing a vehicle’s track by the height of the center of gravity) that is used in the current five-star rollover rating system. SEMA has consistently questioned the validity of NHTSA’s current ratings because they exclude real-world factors, such as vehicle handling characteristics, driver behavior, plus road and weather conditions.
 
NHTSA’s current listing of rollover ratings are available at www.nhtsa.dot.gov/hot/rollover/index.html.
 
 
 
NHTSA Takes Another Look at Rollover Ratings
 
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is developing a new, “dynamic” vehicle rollover rating system that will theoretically be based upon actual driving and maneuverability testing. Preparation of this rating system was mandated by the TREAD Act, vehicle safety legislation that passed Congress in the wake of the Ford-Firestone controversy last year.
 
NHTSA’s rollover testing results will be made public through a consumer information program and will likely replace the “static” mathematical calculation (dividing a vehicle’s track by the height of the center of gravity) that is used in the current five-star rollover rating system. SEMA has consistently questioned the validity of NHTSA’s current ratings because they exclude real-world factors, such as vehicle handling characteristics, driver behavior, plus road and weather conditions.
 
NHTSA’s current listing of rollover ratings are available at www.nhtsa.dot.gov/hot/rollover/index.html.
 
 
 
Texas Says Yes to Voluntary Emission System Repair and Upgrade
 
In a small victory for Texas hobbyists and SEMA, Texas Governor Rick Perry signed into law a bill that allows counties to incorporate VOLUNTARY emissions system repair and upgrades into their inspection and maintenance programs as one of several options available to qualified motorists. “SEMA remains adamantly opposed to scrappage, as it is unfair to hobbyists and unhelpful to the environment. However, we are optimistic that the VOLUNTARY repair or upgrade option we finally convinced legislators to adopt will steer motorists away from the state’s vehicle scrappage program,” said SEMA Director of Government Affairs Steve McDonald.
 
Under the new law, Texas will help certain car owners who wish to VOLUNTARILY repair and upgrade their vehicles to comply with state emission requirements. Vehicles qualifying for the program must have failed an emissions test, be functionally operational and registered in a countyimplementing the program for at least 2 years. Of particular interest to enthusiasts, vehicles registered as classic and those not regularly used for transportation are not eligible for the new program. In addition, the law also creates an advisory committee composed of parties affected by the program, including hobbyists and industry, to aid in the development and implementation of the program. The group will helpidentify and protect vehicles with intrinsic value as an existing or future collectible.
 
SEMA would like to recognize the efforts of the Texas Vehicle ClubCouncil, North Texas Corvair Association, Texas Cadillac-LaSalle Club andthe Center for Concerned Citizens for Automotive Safety for their efforts in fighting the senseless destruction of older cars.
 
 
 
Newly Introduced Legislation
 
Note: The following bills are not laws. They have been recently introduced and are currently being considered for adoption by the respective state legislatures.
 
Emissions
 
California: S.B. 433 would provide grants toward the purchase of low-emission heavy-duty engines for vehicles.
 
California: S.B. 1170 would require that vehicles purchased for State-use meet or exceed Ultra Low-Emission Vehicle standards.
 
Delaware: S.B. 216 would provide a tax credit toward the purchase of hybrid and electric vehicles.
 
New Jersey: A.B. 3591 would implement Phase II of the California Low-Emission Vehicle program.
 
Equipment
 
Michigan: H.B. 4988 would provide more stringent limits on new motorcycle and moped exhaust noise.
 
Racing
 
Pennsylvania: S.B. 980 would limit the tax collected on racetrack admissions to 40%.
 
 
 
Can You Believe?
 
You Want to Destroy What?!
 
Donna and Butch Chaffer received a letter from the California Bay Area Air Quality Management District that they found difficult to believe.
 
It read: "Since the registration on your model-year 1966 vehicle is expiring soon, this might be a good time to consider an alternative to driving this vehicle. You can receive $500 for your 1981 or older car, van or pick-up truck ..."
 
The letter went on to note that the "program buys and then scraps 1981 and older vehicles. These older vehicles have less efficient emission control equipment and therefore produce much more air pollution than newer vehicles." Well, that may be true in some cases, but the vehicle in question is Mrs. Chaffer’s completely restored El Camino, valued at about $20,000. This is a great example of how scrappage programs that arbitrarily seek to crush vehicles built before a given year do not take into account factors such as the mechanical condition of the vehicle.
 
The Chaffers note that many of the parts they used to restore their Chevy came from salvage yards. The supreme irony is that if programs like this are allowed to continue, finding reasonably priced used parts will become a thing of the past.
 
If you have a horror story regarding unfair restrictions on our rights as hobbyists or about an unfortunate run-in with the authorities, send it to us at: 
andrewr@sema.org or 
 
SEMA 
Attn: "Can You Believe" 
1317 F Street, NW, Suite 500 
Washington, D.C. 20004.
 
 
 
August SAN Club Events
 
CALIFORNIA
 
August 24-26, Pleasanton—15th Annual GOODGUYS West Coast Nationals 
Sponsor: GOODGUYS 
Information: 925/838-9876
 
August 24-26, Pleasanton—Buick Street Rod Association West Coast Meet 
Sponsor: Buick Street Rod Association 
Information: 310/541-6439 or 541/382-5202
 
ILLINOIS
 
August 9-11, Cordova—’01 AMC Nationals 
Sponsor: National American Motors Drivers and Racers Association 
Information: 262/396-9552
 
August 19, Aurora—11th Annual Orphan Auto Picnic 
Sponsor: Chicagoland Corvair Enthusiasts 
Information: 815/469-2936
 
August 26, Oakbrook—11th Annual Indian Uprising All Pontiac Car Show 
Sponsor: Cruisin’ Tigers GTO Club 
Information: 630/964-8508
 
MINNESOTA
 
August 11-12, Red Wing—All New Back to the Sixties 
Sponsor: Minnesota Street Rod Association 
Information: 800/222-7077
 
NORTH CAROLINA
 
August 25, Spruce Pine—Mid-Summer Slam 
Sponsor: Endless Attention 
Information: 828/765-5354
 
VERMONT
 
August 4, Bellows Falls—3rd Annual Antique Truck Show 
Sponsor: ATHS, Green Mountain Chapter 
Information: 603/445-5070
 
WASHINGTON
 
August 24-26, Spokane—18th Annual Northwest Street Rod Nationals 
Sponsor: National Street Rod Association 
Information: 505/763-5771
 
WISCONSIN
 
August 11-12, Iola—Rod and Kustom Weekend 
Sponsor: Rods-N-Relics Car Club 
Information: 262/375-1060

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