By Colby Martin
Another year of action-packed legislative sessions has drawn to a close. As such, the SEMA Action Network (SAN) was tapped to stick up for automotive aficionados on vehicle-related proposals from coast to coast. However, one accomplishment is worth a deeper look.
Earlier this year, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed into law SAN-supported legislation creating a specific registration and titling class for former military and assembled vehicles, including kit cars and dune buggies. The new law provides guidance to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) on how to treat such vehicles. Previously, there was no specific registration and titling class for certain assembled vehicles, such as offerings similar to the legendary Volkswagen-based Meyers Manx.
What led to the bill's successful outcome? A strongly united effort carefully planned and coordinated on every front. A policy was set in 2014 to specifically exclude eligibility for titling/registration based on safety concerns. Initially, letters were sent to vehicle owners from the DMV indicating that their vehicles were "erroneously issued title and registration" and their street-legal status was being revoked. The need for a long-term solution became clear.
Advocates from the automotive hobby and industry began a constructive dialogue. A working group was formed to bring local expertise and topical knowledge to the table. Impacted owners, club members, enthusiasts and business leaders began discussions with a legislative consultant, officials from the DMV and state lawmakers. As a result of the meeting, the DMV revisited the state's titling requirements and the legislature was given an opportunity to help guide them through passing the SAN-supported proposal.
The role of timing cannot be understated. It may come as a surprise that the state's legislature is one of the few jurisdictions that do not convene every year—instead, it meets biennially. Any rewriting of the rules must be done swiftly or face a two-year wait. Language in the draft legislation ultimately required a compromise for approval, so amendments were made in the process. Resident SAN contacts encouraged passage of the bill throughout its journey in the capitol. The signing of the bill into law achieved the immediate goal and sets a productive precedent going forward.
Tact, patience and a broad range of allies are often critical when attempting to sway public policy—especially when the odds seem stacked against the automotive community. When most state legislatures open for business again in January, SAN contacts will once again be notified about the chance to fight for cars and trucks in their region. As always, please present the hobby in a positive manner with your outreach messages to decision makers—no matter how tough the topic. Our community needs every possible advantage when politics are involved.
- Washington State Bills to Increase Fees and Restrict Eligibility for Hobby Vehicle Registration Introduced | 01-14-2020
- West Virginia Introduces SEMA-Model Inoperable Vehicle Legislation | 01-14-2020
- Kansas Introduces Bill to Allow Newer Military Surplus Vehicle Registration | 01-15-2020
- Pro-Hobby Bills Reintroduced in New York Assembly as Legislature Reconvenes | 01-09-2020
- West Virginia Introduces Bills to Ease Taxes on Certain Vehicles | 01-16-2020
- New Jersey Reintroduces Street Rod and Custom Vehicle Bill | 01-16-2020
- New York Bill to Exempt Historic Vehicles from Extra Registration Fee Introduced | 01-10-2020
- West Virginia Bill to Preserve Appearance of Antique Military Vehicles Reintroduced | 01-09-2020
- ACT NOW—Tell Congress to Pass the RPM Act and Save Our Racecars!
- New Jersey Warranty Disclosure Bill Signed into Law | 01-10-2020
- Rhode Island Bill to Extend Emissions-Inspection Waiver Dies as New Legislative Session Convenes | 01-13-2020
- New Hampshire Single Plate Bill Dies as Legislature Reconvenes | 01-13-2020
- Pro-Hobby New Jersey Bills Die as Legislature Adjourns | 01-15-2020
MEET THE HOBBY’S ALLIES
U.S. Representative Richard Hudson (R-NC) continues to be a strong advocate for the Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports (RPM) Act dating back the effort’s beginning in 2016. As soon as he heard about the threat to motorsports—a key economic driver in his district, which includes Charlotte Motor Speedway and Rockingham Dragway—he got to work. Not only is he an original co-sponsor of the RPM Act, but he also questioned EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy about the regulation at a Congressional committee hearing and penned a letter to the EPA questioning the agency’s authority to regulate vehicles used exclusively at the track. Help the good fight by signing the letter to Congress now: www.sema.org/rpm