Red Hot Federal Issues

Following is an update of some of the hottest recent federal legislative and regulatory issues affecting the aftermarket. Be sure to check back with this page frequently for updates on these issues.

Pending Legislation/Regulations

RPM Act (Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports Act)

Low Volume Manufacturing

Ethanol/Fuel Economy

Bonneville Salt Flats

Land Use

Off-Highway Vehicles

Johnson Valley

Vehicle Scrappage

3D Printing

Health Care


Federal Trade Commission


Federal Issues Homepage

SEMA Federal Legislative Priorities: 2016

RPM Act:  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) inserted a provision into a July 2015 proposed greenhouse gas rulemaking for trucks and buses, which stated that it is illegal to make emissions modifications to a motor vehicle that is being used exclusively for racing.  The EPA contends that modifying the vehicle’s emissions system from its certified condition is an illegal act (tampering) and that emissions related race products can only be installed on purpose built race vehicles.  While the EPA removed the racecar language from the final rulemaking, the agency continues to assert its newfound authority to regulate race parts and position that converted street vehicles are illegal even if there is no enforcement against the individual.  SEMA is working to advance the “Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports Act” (RPM Act: HR 4715/S 2659), which clarifies that the Clean Air Act allows for the modification of motor vehicles for race use only and that making, selling and installing race products for this purpose is not tampering.  The legislation has strong support in Congress, including 112 sponsors in the House and 26 in the Senate.  SEMA has worked with its member companies, racing enthusiasts, and other impacted groups to support the legislation, resulting in over 165,000 letters being sent to members of Congress. 

Replica Vehicle Law:  SEMA spent the past few years working with leaders in Congress to enact a new law permitting small volume automakers to each sell up to 325 turn-key replica vehicles in the U.S. (5,000 worldwide per company) under a simplified regulatory system.  The legislation was part of the highway bill signed into law in December 2015.  Replica cars resemble production vehicles manufactured at least 25 years ago such as 1930s-era hot rods and 1960s-era Cobras.  Until now, the federal government’s regulatory system did not differentiate between a company producing millions of vehicles and a business producing a few custom cars.  As a result, a small “kit car” market emerged where a manufacturer sold car parts, frequently assembled, and the buyer installed the engine/transmission.  While states have often regulated kit cars built by hobbyists by the model year they resemble, the federal government viewed a manufacturer-completed replica car to be a current model year vehicle.  The new law now allows each manufacturer to sell up to 325 completed replicas in the U.S. subject to equipment regulations, the same as kit cars.  Hobbyists will still have the freedom to assemble their own vehicle if they prefer.  SEMA is now working with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the EPA as they draft regulations implementing the law.  The regulations are due by the end of 2016 and consumers should be able to begin purchasing replicas in 2017.   More information is available at  

Collector Car Appreciation Day:  SEMA worked with U.S. Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Jon Tester (D-MT) to pass a U.S. Senate resolution designating July 8, 2016 as "Collector Car Appreciation Day."  It marked the seventh consecutive Senate commemoration in what has become an annual event to raise awareness of the vital role automotive restoration and collection plays in American society.  The resolution noted that “the collection and restoration of historic and classic cars is an important part of preserving the technological achievements and cultural heritage of the United States.”  With the support of SEMA and the SEMA Action Network (SAN), car clubs, enthusiast organizations, and affiliated businesses hosted more than 125 events to commemorate the day in 2016. Events ranged from car cruises to small-business open houses and product giveaways.  For more information:

Comprehensive Tax Reform:  At the end of 2015, lawmakers enacted legislation making two SEMA-supported tax credits permanent rather than extending them a year at a time.  The research and development tax credit is now permanent along with the Section 179 deduction limits, which allow smaller companies to write off their capital investments up to $500,000 a year with a $2 million cap on annual investments, indexed for inflation.  The bonus depreciation was renewed for investments in capital equipment made through 2019.  However, it will also be gradually reduced from 50% depreciation through the end of 2017 to 40% depreciation in 2018 and 30% depreciation in 2019.  While addressing tax credits, SEMA is now working with members of Congress to build support for comprehensive tax reform to lower overall corporate tax rates and encourage investment. 

E15 Ethanol:  Ethanol can cause metal corrosion and dissolve certain plastics and rubbers, especially in older cars that were not constructed with ethanol-resistant materials.  The EPA has approved the sale of gasoline containing 15% ethanol (E15) for use in 2001 and newer vehicles while making it illegal to fuel older cars and motorcycles based on evidence that it could cause damage to those vehicles and engines.  The issue is especially problematic since the EPA only requires a gas pump warning label, which may be inadequate to prevent misfueling by motorists unfamiliar with potential E15 harm.  The EPA approved E15 in part since it helps the agency meet “Renewable Fuel Standard” (RFS) mandates, a federal law that requires increasing amounts of biofuels be blended into gasoline each year, from 9 billion gallons in 2008 to 36 billion gallons by 2022.  SEMA is working with a diverse coalition of organizations opposed to the law’s artificial mandates, from the auto/boat industries to the petroleum, food and environmental communities. SEMA’s position on E15 is clear: Congress needs to reduce the RFS mandates and ban E15.  SEMA supports legislation (HR 704) to prohibit E15 sales and eliminate the RFS’s mandate that 15 billion gallons of corn-based ethanol be blended into the U.S. fuel supply each year. SEMA also supports a bill (HR 5180) thatcaps the yearly amount of ethanol that can be blended into transportation fuel at 9.7 percent and replaces the RFS’s ever-increasing ethanol mandates. 

Bonneville Salt Flats:  The Bonneville Salt Flats (BSF) are a national treasure and unique resource of international significance central to the history of motorsports.  Hundreds of land speed records have been set there in a variety of automotive and motorcycle classes.  However, the BSF is endangered, having significantly decreased in size, strength and thickness over a number of decades as salt brine was channeled away from the area.  Most of the 2014 and 2015 racing events were cancelled due to rain and the salt surface’s poor condition.  To address this ongoing issue, SEMA helped organize the Save the Salt Coalition, companies and organizations with a vested interest in protecting the BSF.  The Coalition is working with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which manages the land, and Intrepid Potash-Wendover LLC, which operates an adjoining mining operation.  The Save the Salt Coalition/Utah Alliance presented BLM with a comprehensive plan to restore the Salt Flats in May 2016, which includes short and long-term solutions such as increasing the amount of salt brine being pumped by Intrepid and re-routing the brine through the Salduro Loop to capture more salt.  SEMA is also working closely with lawmakers in Congress and in Utah and Nevada to pursue restoration.  For more information, visit, a website maintained by SEMA.

Health Care:  Although the Affordable Care Act was enacted in 2010, it continues to cause confusion amongst small and mid-size business owners alike.   The law is being phased-in over a number of years.  Mandates for large companies (50 or more full-time workers) to offer affordable coverage began in 2014.  Smaller companies are not required to offer health insurance but the government provides tax credits to very small companies (25 or fewer employees).  SEMA encourages member companies review their current situation, speak with health insurance professionals and determine how to proceed.  SEMA Government Affairs staff has compiled these resources with an easy to use website to assist our member companies with compliance at

Health Care Fines:  The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed legislation to eliminate fines imposed on companies with fewer than 50 employees that do not sponsor health care plans but provide pre-tax dollars to workers through Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs). The bill has also been introduced in the Senate and has strong bipartisan support.HRAs are employer-funded plans that allow a company to reimburse its workers for health care premiums and out-of-pocket medical expenses. In 2013, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) ruled that the Affordable Care Act made it illegal for the company to fund HRAs not tied to a group plan. The Small Business Health Care Relief Act (HR 5447) allows these companies to use pretax dollars to continue providing health care assistance outside a group plan. If not enacted into law, the IRS will impose a $100 per day/per employee penalty for improperly using an HRA.  

OHVs and Land Use Legislation:  Threats to off-highway vehicle (OHV) access typically take form in legislation passed by Congress or regulations issued by the BLM, U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and other federal and state agencies. The actions threaten recreational access, designate lands as “wilderness” (roadless) or “National Monuments,” or unnecessarily close lands to protect endangered species.  Public land access issues are of keen interest to off-roaders and the SEMA-member companies that market products to those groups.  SEMA supports land-use decisions that are reasonable and enjoy local community support and will continue to monitor and keep SAN members informed of restrictive legislative proposals.

For additional information, please click on the following link:

National Monuments:  Under current law, the President has the authority to declare public land with “historic or scientific interest” to be a National Monument.  While the designation does not immediately close any roads, it prohibits new roads or trails for motorized vehicles and will require drafting of a new land management plan.  President Obama has created 26 national monuments while in office.  SEMA opposes unilateral national monument designations, as they prohibit new roads or trails for motorized vehicles and require a new land management plan be drafted that could lead to more road closures.  We support a collaborative approach to land-use decisions, including input from local citizens, elected leaders and other stakeholders on national monument designations.  HR 900 and S 228 reflect these principles, as these bills require National Monument designations to be approved by the U.S. Congress and the impacted state legislature.

Utah Public Lands Initiative:  SEMA supports efforts by U.S. Congressmen Rob Bishop (R-UT) and Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) to create final federal land-use designations for 18 million acres of land in eastern and southern Utah.  Bishop and Chaffetz (R-UT) introduced their the “Utah Public Lands Initiative” (HR 5780) in July 2016, which covers more than 20 million acres of land in the state’s eight eastern counties (San Juan, Daggett, Uintah, Carbon, Duchesne, Emery, Grand and Summit Counties).  Each of the counties put forward plans to finalize federal land designations, which include permanent protections for motorized recreation.  Although there may be some road/trail closures, the counties have a no net loss policy with the potential for positive trade-offs.  Chairman Bishop has publicly stated that his plan will include a provision to prohibit the president from using his powers under the Antiquities Act to designate national monuments in the counties covered by the proposal.  The legislation is locally sourced alternative to the President designating a Bears Ears National Monument. 

National OHV Area Designations:  SEMA supports HR 3668, the “California Minerals, Off-Road Recreation, and Conservation Act” (CMORCA), which would permanently designate six existing OHV areas comprising 300,000 acres in San Bernardino County as national OHV areas: Johnson Valley, Spangler Hills, El Mirage, Rasor, Dumont Dunes and Stoddard Valley.  The bill prevents the president from designating national monuments within OHV and Special Management areas covered in this legislation and is the result of Rep. Paul Cook’s (R-CA) outreach to OHV, environmental, preservation, energy, military, and local communities to provide a pragmatic path forward for managing federal lands in the southern California deserts.  Click here to contact your lawmakers in support of this SAN supported bill:

Clear Creek OHV Recreation Area:  SEMA supports HR 1838 to reopen the 75,000 acre Clear Creek National Recreation Area (NRA) in San Benito and Fresno counties California.  The bill would provide OHV access to over 240 miles of public trails closed in 2008 due to concerns surrounding exposure to asbestos.  The California Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Commission ordered an independent risk assessment study and concluded that the land could be managed without exposing the public to unacceptable risks. The U.S. House of Representatives passed HR 1838 on July 5.

Congressional Automotive Performance and Motorsports Caucus:  The Caucus was formed in 1996 in honor of the 100th year of the American automobile and to recognize the contributions the automotive performance and motorsports industry has made to the U.S. economy. This informal and bi-partisan Congressional Caucus, which now has over 75 members, pays tribute to America’s ever growing love affair with the car, motorsports and the specialty auto parts industry.  Consumer sales of motor vehicle performance, appearance, comfort, convenience, and technology products total $36 billion in annually, while providing jobs for more than one million Americans.  In its 20-year history, the Caucus is serving to raise the industry’s profile on Capitol Hill and in the eyes of the public. The Caucus does not seek to reach a consensus on legislative issues. For more information on joining the "Motorsports Caucus,” please contact Christian Robinson, PAC & Congressional Relations Manager, at or 202.783.6007 ext. 20.


For more information about any of these issues, contact Eric Snyder at 202/783-6007, ext. 39 or


The future of our prized cars and trucks is being threatened! Add your voice to our growing U.S. and Canadian forces united to advance our automotive freedoms. SAN members defend the hobby by responding to timely e-mail updates on vehicle-related legislation and regulations. No fees. No SPAM. No obligations. Great strength comes with great numbers. Can we count on you to help preserve the classics of today and tomorrow?

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